Andy Dirks had a pair of doubles among his four hits to go with two runs scored in the Detroit Tigers' 4-1 win over the Kansas City Royals in the opener of a five-game set.
Anibal Sanchez (11-7) surrendered just a run on seven hits and a walk while fanning five over 7 1/3 innings for the Tigers, who have won back-to-back tilts on the heels of a 1-4 stretch.
Prince Fielder smacked a two-run homer, his first long ball in three weeks, and Joaquin Benoit fired a scoreless ninth to notch his 16th save of the season in the triumph.
"We don't want to give them any chance to get close to us," Sanchez said, whose Tigers are 8 1/2 games ahead of Kansas City in the AL Central.
Jeremy Guthrie (12-9) allowed four runs on 13 hits over seven frames for Kansas City, which has dropped three straight following a 17-3 stretch that put the Royals in contention for a postseason appearance.
"We had Sanchez early," Kansas City manager Ned Yost. "We just couldn't do anything with him after that."
Alex Gordon's RBI single in the opening frame staked Kansas City a quick 1-0 lead, but the Tigers answered with a pair of runs in the home first and added two more in the fifth to give them a 4-1 advantage.
Dirks led off the home first with a single and after Torii Hunter and Miguel Cabrera both flied out, Fielder cracked a towering two-run shot that just crept into the front row of seats in right-center to put Detroit in front.
In the fifth, a Dirks double put runners on second and third with one out before Hunter's hot-shot single back through the box plated Jose Iglesias. Dirks came home when Cabrera fisted a looping single into center for Detroit's three-run spread.
The Royals never got a runner past first base after Chris Getz singled and stole second in the fifth.
Detroit was 2-for-12 with runners in scoring position, while the Royals finished 1-for-9 with RISP ... Fielder has 18 homers and 83 RBI this season ... Cabrera picked up his 115th RBI.