Baseball / Sports

Detroit Tigers' Torii Hunter (48) greets Austin Jackson (14) after scoring on a single by J.D. Martinez in the third inning during baseball game against the Kansas City Royals, Sunday, July 13, 2014 at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Mo. (John Sleezer/Kansas City Star/MCT)

Royals salvage series finale with 5-2 victory against Tigers

It took 33 2/3 innings and nearly 12 hours of baseball, but the Royals finally managed to take a lead Sunday during the final game of a four-game series with the Tigers.

The Royals had returned to Kansas City on Thursday with designs on putting a dent in the Tigers' 4 1/2-game lead in the AL Central.

Instead, the Tigers grabbed a three-run lead before the Royals took a turn at-bat in the series opener and overmatched Ned Yost's run-starved club until the seventh inning of the series finale.

That's when the Royals' scuffling offense was resuscitated long enough to muster a five-run frame en route to a 5-2 victory that salvaged the final game of the series and the final before the All-Star break.

Really, the offense slowly woke up from a three-game hibernation more than it surged to life.

Still, it was enough to snap a three-game skid, keep the club above .500 and pull the Royals (48-46) within 6 1/2 games of the Tigers (53-38) at the season's unofficial midpoint.

Through six innings, Justin Verlander had the Tigers on course for a sweep.

The Royals had gifted the Tigers a 2-0 lead in the third inning and mustered only two hits -- Brett Hayes' two-out double in the third and Jarrod Dyson's two-out infield single in the fifth.

The tide finally turned in the seventh when singles by Billy Butler, Mike Moustakas, Raul Ibanez, who snapped an 0-for-25 stretch with a line drive to center, loaded the bases before Alcides Escobar broke up the shutout with an infield single past the mound.

Dyson knotted the game with an RBI groundout to second, which chased Verlander.

The Tigers' beleaguered bullpen couldn't staunch the bleeding.

Two batters after Salvador Perez, who pinch hit for Hayes, was intentionally walked, Omar Infante slashed a two-run single to left.

Eric Hosmer, who extended his hitting streak to a career-best 13 games, pushed the lead to 5-2 with a ground-rule double to center and that was more than enough for Wade Davis and All-Star closer Greg Holland.

The Royals best two relievers each turned in a perfect inning, polishing off a victory that sent the crowd of 23,424 home in jovial spirits.

Starting in place of Jason Vargas, who underwent an emergency appendectomy Wednesday in Tampa, veteran lefty Bruce Chen turned in a sterling start.

He allowed only two runs on eight hits with two strikeouts and no walks in 5 1/3 innings, but he left with the Royals trailing 2-0.

Making his first career relief appearance, Yordano Ventura backed up Chen with 1 2/3 scoreless innings.

Ventura (7-7) picked up the victory, allowing only one hit with three strikeouts. Holland earned his 25th save.

(c)2014 The Kansas City Star (Kansas City, Mo.)

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