Victor Martinez's tie-breaking sacrifice fly in the eighth inning vaulted Max Scherzer to his ninth victory and the Detroit Tigers to a 3-2 decision over the Kansas City Royals on Tuesday.
Kansas City managed just three hits against the unbeaten Scherzer (9-0), who matched the longest win streak to begin a season by a Tigers starter since at least 1916, but the Royals still had a chance in the ninth.
Salvador Perez reached with a leadoff single and pinch-runner Elliot Johnson swiped second, but Jose Valverde struck out Billy Butler, who got ejected afterward for arguing, and then recorded the final two outs to notch his ninth save.
"I didn't think it was close and it got called," said Butler. "When I looked at the replay it was even worse than I thought it was."
Scherzer joined Vern Kennedy (1938) and George Uhle (1929) as the only Detroit starters to win their first nine decisions. He gave up two runs, struck out six and walked a pair over a strong seven-inning outing.
"Yeah, I've put myself in a position (to pick up a win)," said Scherzer. "My offense has bailed me out a few times. Sometimes when you look at win-loss records, I'm on a great offensive team. It's just a flukey stat."
Miguel Cabrera was struck with a pitch by Aaron Crow (2-2) to begin the top of the eighth and by scoring the go-ahead run later in the frame, the Tigers snapped Kansas City's season-best six-game win streak.
Andy Dirks and Don Kelly each collected an RBI for the Tigers, winners in five of their last six games.
Wade Davis turned in his longest outing in 10 starts, tossing 6 2/3 innings of two-run ball on eight hits while striking out five. He earned a no decision and is winless in nine of his last 10 outings.
Scherzer didn't allow a hit through the first four innings, but after a bumpy fifth he returned to dominance by retiring the last seven batters he faced. Detroit then put him in position for the win in the eighth.
After Cabrera was hit by a pitch, he moved to third on Prince Fielder's base hit into right. Martinez then lifted a fly ball into left and Cabrera easily scored to break the 2-2 tie.
The Tigers got their third hit and a 1-0 lead in the second on Kelly's soft liner down the third-base line. Martinez scored and Omar Infante attempted to from first on the play, but was thrown out at the plate to end the inning.
Dirks doubled Detroit's edge with a groundout in the fifth, but the Royals finally touched up Scherzer in the bottom half.
David Lough began the inning with his first career homer and Mike Moustakas followed with a single. Chris Getz bumped him over with a sac bunt and Alcides Escobar drove him in for a 2-2 game, although was thrown out trying to stretch his hit into a double.
The Royals, though, managed only two singles over the final four innings of play.
Scherzer is 4-0 in six career starts against Kansas City ... Infante had three hits for Detroit ... Kansas City went 1-for-6 with runners in scoring position ... The Royals were going for their longest winning streak since a seven-game run from Sept. 10-17, 2011.