DETROIT (AP) — Prince Fielder was thrown out at home plate to end the game, preserving Ervin Santana’s impressive outing and leading the Kansas City Royals to a 1-0 victory Saturday night over the Detroit Tigers.
The play at the plate helped the Royals gain ground on the two teams ahead them in the race for the second AL wild card, the Yankees and Orioles, who both lost earlier. Kansas City moved to three games back of Tampa Bay. The Rays were playing at Minnesota.
Eric Hosmer had an RBI triple in the first for the Royals. He was thrown out at the plate trying to score on a grounder to third base.
Santana (9-9) won for the first time since Aug. 4, outpitching Doug Fister (12-9). He allowed five hits in 6 2-3 innings, walking one and striking out five.
Will Smith, Luke Hochevar and Greg Holland completed the seven-hitter.
Fielder walked to open the ninth. The Tigers’ burly first baseman then tried to score from first on Omar Infante’s two-out double but Gold Glove outfielder Alex Gordon made a strong throw from the left field corner to Alcides Escobar. The shortstop then made a perfect relay to catcher Salvador Perez, who tagged a sliding Fielder to end it.
Miguel Cabrera made a bid to put Detroit ahead with two outs and a man on in the bottom of the sixth. But Gordon caught Cabrera’s long drive to left-center at the fence.
Detroit’s magic number remained 10 games to clinch the A.L. Central.
Santana was replaced by Smith with two outs and runners on second and third in the seventh. Smith got pinch-hitter Nick Castellanos to fly out to end the inning.
Hochevar pitched a scoreless eighth and Holland worked the ninth for his 43rd save.
Fister was nearly as good, giving up a run and eight hits in 7 2-3 innings. He walked four and struck out six.
Jose Alvarez got the final out of the eighth and Al Alburquerque pitched a perfect ninth inning.
Gordon lined a single to right on Fister’s first pitch of the game, and he scored on Hosmer’s one-out triple to right-center.
Hosmer was thrown out at the plate on Billy Butler’s grounder.
Royals second baseman Emilio Bonafacio was ejected by first base umpire James Hoye after Bonifacio was picked off first base by Fister for the final out of the third inning. Hoye thumbed Bonifacio immediately after he began to argue the call.
Chris Getz, who is from the Detroit suburb of Grosse Pointe, took over at second base for Kansas City.
NOTES: Kansas City trainer Nick Kenney came out to check on Santana after he was hit by Andy Dirks’ liner in the second. Santana recovered to throw Dirks out at first. Santana ultimately threw a couple of warmup pitches and continued. … The Royals are 10-8 against the Tigers this season, clinching the season series with one game left. … In Sunday’s series finale, the Detroit’s Max Scherzer (19-3, 3.01) will go for his 20th win against Kansas City right-hander Jeremy Guthrie (14-10, 4.11)
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