KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Justin Verlander had one of the worst outings of his career in one unlikely spot.
The ace right-hander allowed seven runs in the first two innings and the Detroit Tigers went on to a 9-8 loss to the Kansas City Royals on Tuesday night.
Mike Moustakas had three hits and three RBIs for Kansas City, which finished with 15 hits overall. Alex Gordon and Billy Butler had two RBIs apiece.
Verlander, the reigning AL MVP and Cy Young Award winner, was charged with eight earned runs, matching his career high, in 5 2-3 innings. It was the third time in Verlander's career he had surrendered eight earned runs and first since April 6, 2009, at Toronto.
After striking out his first two hitters, Verlander allowed seven runs on 10 hits to the next 13 batters, throwing 56 pitches in the first two innings. The Royals batted around in a four-run second.
"Clearly, I wasn't good enough," Verlander said. "I need to pitch better. I didn't pitch as badly as the numbers show, but definitely need to throw the ball better, especially when our guys jumped out and gave me three (runs) early.
"Obviously, I'm not just shrugging this game off. It's disappointing. That's probably the one word I'd use to describe today. Now, it's over. We gave ourselves a chance to win, we battled hard and showed resiliency but couldn't quite squeak it out."
Manager Jim Leyland had the bullpen warming up in the second, a sight seldom seen in a Verlander start.
"I was watching him," Leyland said. "He's got to pitch in a big game Sunday (against the White Sox). Today just wasn't his day. That happens."
Jhonny Peralta hit a tying solo homer for Detroit in the eighth, but the Royals responded in the bottom half.
Butler singled with one out for his third hit of the game and was replaced by Lorenzo Cain, who swiped second. Salvador Perez then fouled out against Brayan Villarreal (3-4) and Phil Coke came in to face Moustakas, who doubled down the right-field line to give the Royals a 9-8 lead.
Aaron Crow (3-1) got the win despite allowing Peralta's 10th homer and Greg Holland worked out of a jam to earn his eighth save in 10 opportunities.
Austin Jackson led off the Detroit ninth with a walk and advanced to third on a groundout and wild pitch. After Miguel Cabrera struck out and Prince Fielder was walked intentionally, Delmon Young hit Holland's next pitch just outside the right-field pole. Leyland wanted it reviewed and after looking at replays, it was ruled a foul ball. Young lined out to left on the next pitch.
Jackson went 3 for 3 and scored three times for the Tigers, who stayed two games back of the AL Central-leading White Sox. Fielder and Young each had two RBIs.
Gordon doubled and scored in the first, then doubled home two runs in the second. It was his fifth consecutive multihit game and gave him a major league-leading 44 doubles.
Perez's second double in the sixth scored Jarrod Dyson and chased Verlander after he yielded 12 hits, one shy of his career high set Aug. 11, 2006, against the Chicago White Sox in his rookie season.
The Royals' 2-through-6 hitters — Alcides Escobar, Gordon, Butler, Perez and Moustakas — combined for 12 hits and nine RBIs. Moustakas began the day mired in a 1-for-23 skid.
Verlander entered with a 9-2 record and a 1.83 ERA in 13 career starts at Kauffman Stadium and a 14-2 overall record against the Royals.
Detroit scored three times in the first. Andy Dirks doubled in Jackson and scored on Young's two-out homer off Luis Mendoza.
"It's always nice to have a cushion like that in the first," Verlander said. "Then before you can blink, it's a tie game. That's what happens at this level. Things can happen in a hurry."
The Royals responded with three runs in the bottom half, capped by Moustakas' two-run single.
Mendoza gave up six runs and seven hits in five innings.
NOTES: Royals LHP Bruce Chen will start Wednesday against the Tigers. Chen received treatment after rolling his right ankle when he stepped on a ball in the outfield Monday at Boston in pregame drills. ... Royals minor league 1B Mark Donato, a 26th-round pick in June, received a 50-game suspension from the commissioner's office after testing positive for an amphetamine. Donato was hitting .253 with three home runs in 38 games for Surprise in the rookie Arizona League.