KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Miguel Cabrera homered and drove in four runs and Dontrelle Willis turned in six solid innings in his first regular-season start in almost 10 months, leading the Detroit Tigers to a 7-3 victory over the Kansas City Royals on Thursday.
The Royals bullpen blew three saves in the season-opening three-game series against the Tigers.
Willis, plagued with chronic wildness during his shortened 2009 season, walked the first batter he faced on four pitches. But the former two-time National League All-Star issued only one more base on balls and had four strikeouts, giving up two runs on seven hits. It was his first start since issuing a career-high eight walks last June 14 and then going on the disabled list for the rest of the season with social anxiety.
Cabrera went 4 for 5 with a three-run homer and an RBI single. In 41 games against the Royals, he's hitting .363 with 13 home runs and 39 RBIs.
Eddie Bonine (1-0) pitched an inning of relief, giving up three hits. He escaped unscathed when Alberto Callaspo capped a dreadful day at the plate by grounding out with the bases loaded.
After Dusty Hughes walked Johnny Damon leading off the Detroit eighth, Luis Mendoza (0-1) came in and surrendered an infield single to Magglio Ordonez, who had a solo home run off starter Brian Bannister in the sixth.
Cabrera then clubbed his second home run in two days for a 4-2 lead. Cabrera added an RBI single in the ninth and Justin Jackson doubled home another run. The third run scored in the ninth when Luis Colon hit Ryan Raburn with the bases loaded.
Scott Podsednik went 4 for 5 for the Royals, who took a 2-1 lead on Jose Guillen's RBI single in the first and Billy Butler's RBI single in the third.
Bannister went six innings and gave up six hits and one run, with no walks and three strikeouts.
The Royals got a run in the eighth on Rick Ankiel's sacrifice fly.
Callaspo had a day to forget. The Royals had two runners on base each of the first three times he came to bat but he grounded into two double plays and struck out. Then with the bases loaded and two out in the eighth, he grounded weakly to Cabrera at first.
NOTES: The Tigers open their home season on Friday against the Cleveland Indians. ... Damon's bat went flying past first base when he swung at a pitch in the eighth. ... Cabrera's home run with two out in the ninth Wednesday night sent the game into extra innings. ... Bannister dropped to 17-9 in day games.