Detroit, MI – A bases-loaded groundout in the bottom of the ninth by Alex Avila plated Don Kelly with the winning run, as the Detroit Tigers completed a four-game sweep over the Kansas City Royals with a 5-4 victory at Comerica Park.
Kelvin Herrera entered the game with runners on first and second with one out, then Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas bobbled a Jhonny Peralta grounder, leaving the bases loaded. Avila followed with a sharp grounder to first, and though KC first baseman Brayan Pena made a diving stop and tagged the bag, pinch-runner Kelly scored easily.
"When I hit it I thought it was down the line, and then all of a sudden I see (Pena) dive and catch it," Avila said. "He would have had to go to second or home first to get a force play. Luckily he tagged first, then juggled the ball and couldn't get it out and we were able to get the run."
It made a winner of Joaquin Benoit (5-3), who served up a game-tying homer to Billy Butler in the top of the ninth.
Tim Collins (5-4) took the loss, charged with the deciding run while recording just one out.
Detroit starter Doug Fister set a new American League record by striking out nine consecutive batters, eclipsing the previous AL mark of eight last accomplished by Blake Stein of the Royals in 2001. The record-setter came when he fanned Butler looking for the second out of the seventh inning.
One batter earlier, he set a new Tigers record with eight after sending Alex Gordon down on strikes, a mark first set by Denny McLain in 1965 and equaled by John Hiller in 1970.
"I didn't really have any idea what was going on," Fister said of the record. "Still, it was a humbling experience. I can't put it into words. It's one of those things I can look back on after the season is over. That's when I'll be able to appreciate it."
The 28-year-old right-hander also retired 16 in a row from plunking Jeff Francoeur with two down in the second, until a double by Moustakas to start the eighth. He departed after 7 2/3 innings, charged with five hits and three runs -- two earned -- while tying a season high with 10 strikeouts.
Prince Fielder added two hits and an RBI, while Quintin Berry knocked in a pair for the Tigers, who opened up a two-game lead over Chicago in the AL Central. The White Sox lost to Tampa Bay on Thursday.
Francoeur, Johnny Giavotella and Tony Abreu drove in a run each for the Royals, who committed five errors in defeat -- their fifth in a row.
Detroit picked up two runs in its first turn at the plate on a Fielder RBI single and sacrifice fly from Delmon Young. Moustakas had a hand in the proceedings, allowing Berry to reach second thanks to a fielding and throwing error on his routine grounder.
In the second, Omar Infante singled and moved to second on Alcides Escobar's wild throw to first, and after Austin Jackson walked, Berry tripled both home to make it 4-0.
Kansas City finally awoke in the eighth. Back-to-back doubles by Moustakas and Francoeur produced the visitors' first run. A Pena groundout moved Francoeur to third and Giavotella's grounder scored him to bring the Royals within 4-2.
David Lough followed with a single and advanced on a passed ball. Fister was replaced by Phil Coke following Abreu's pinch-single, which made it 4-3. Infante's diving grab of a Gordon grounder saved more trouble and ended the inning with a successful throw to first.
Butler then greeted Benoit with his 28th homer of the year.
Tom Seaver still holds the major league record of 10 straight Ks, for the New York Mets against San Diego on April 22, 1970 ... Nolan Ryan, Ron Davis and Roger Clemens also fanned eight batters in succession in the AL ... Detroit completed its 2012 home slate with a 50-31 mark ... Attendance was 33,091, pushing the Tigers over the 3-million mark for the third time in franchise history (2007-08) ... Prior to the game, the Tigers announced that Max Scherzer will miss his scheduled Friday start due to lingering fatigue in his pitching shoulder ... Royals starter Luis Mendoza served up seven hits and four runs -- two earned -- while fanning six and walking one over seven full frames ... Fister also fanned 10 on July 18 against the Angels ... Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer left the game with a strained right shoulder.