Miguel Cabrera's 39th home run of the season was a game-winner, with his ninth inning solo blast lifting the Detroit Tigers over the Kansas City Royals, 6-5, Saturday at Comerica Park.
Cabrera deposited the fifth pitch he saw from Aaron Crow (7-4) just past the right field wall to snap the third tie of the game. The reigning MVP had two hits and two RBI for the contest.
"I just tried to focus on putting the ball in play, don't try and do to much and just relax," said Cabrera. "It was a nice win."
Joaquin Benoit (3-0) tossed a scoreless top of the ninth to pick up the win, the Tigers' second of this five-game set.
The Royals played from behind the entire game after falling into a 3-0 hole two innings into the game. Starter Wade Davis lasted just 3 2/3 innings and allowed four runs on eight hits.
"It was a battle back and forth," said Chris Getz. "We had our opportunities, we didn't capitalize on them. They came through with their last opportunity, they're the home team and they got to walk it off."
Detroit starter Doug Fister left with the lead after limiting the Royals to three runs over 6 1/3 frames, but Salvador Perez pulled Kansas City even at 4-4 after greeting reliever Drew Smyly with a solo homer. Prince Fielder, however, sent the Tigers back in front with a solo blast of his own in the home portion of the frame.
The contest was knotted again by the eighth. Emilio Bonafacio led off with a single and advanced to third after Detroit catcher Bryan Holaday made a throwing error on his stolen base attempt. Chris Getz then delivered an RBI single to make it 5-5.
The Tigers had just six hits combined while getting swept in Friday's doubleheader, but recorded half that total in the first inning of Saturday's contest and jumped out to the early lead.
After Don Kelly reached with a single, Fielder and Victor Martinez delivered back-to-back run scoring hits, with the former smacking a two-out double into center and then coming around on Martinez's base hit into left.
The Tigers took a 3-0 lead in the second on Jose Iglesias' one-out sacrifice squeeze bunt, but the Royals got two runs back in the third.
Eric Hosmer worked a one-out walk and Fister served up three consecutive singles, with Alex Gordon and Perez each knocking in a run to make it 3-2.
The Royals then evened the score on a controversial play in the fourth. With Getz on first, Fister made a low pitch to Alcides Escobar that appeared to nick his bat on a check swing before scooting to the backstop. Getz hustled all the way to third while catcher Brayan Pena was under the impression that it was a foul ball, but home plate umpire Mike Muchlinski called it live and Escobar drilled a double down the left field line to tie the game at 3-3. Still hot with the call on the field, Pena got ejected as did Detroit manager Jim Leyland for arguing.
Iglesias reached with a base hit to start the fourth, advanced two bags on ground outs and came in to score on Cabrera's double into right field to give the Tigers a 4-3 lead.
The Tigers moved 7 1/2 games clear of the third-place Royals in the AL Central with the victory ... Kansas City infielder Miguel Tejada was handed a 105-game suspension earlier on Saturday for testing positive for amphetamines. The 39- year-old has been on the disabled list since August 11 and is reportedly considering retirement ... The Royals were 4-for-20 with RISP.