Eric Hosmer's first-inning triple knocked in the only run of the game as the Kansas City Royals held on for an important 1-0 victory over the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park.
Four Kansas City pitchers made Hosmer's extra-base hit stand up to give the Royals their ninth win in 13 outings this September, with Ervin Santana (9-9) scattering five hits and a walk over the first 6 2/3 innings and Greg Holland surviving a leadoff walk to Prince Fielder in the ninth to notch his 43rd save of the season.
Fielder was thrown out at the plate to end the game after attempting to score on Omar Infante's double to left.
Hosmer and Mike Moustakas each went 2-for-4 for Kansas City, which trails Tampa Bay and Texas by 3 1/2 games for the AL's two wild card spots.
"This was a huge win for us, we had to have this win tonight," Royals manager Ned Yost said afterward. "We had to win this ball game, and in the manner and fashion that we won it, it was exciting."
Detroit had a three-game win streak halted after mustering just seven hits. Doug Fister (12-9) was dealt the hard-luck loss, permitting just the one run and striking out six over 7 2/3 innings of work.
The game saw plenty of offense early on, as Alex Gordon singled on Fister's initial pitch and Hosmer sent a deep fly ball that landed at the base of the wall in right center two batters later as Gordon raced around from first.
Neither team was able to come up with the big hit from that point on, though the Tigers came within an eyelash of drawing even in their last at-bat.
Holland walked Fielder on five pitches, but was able to get Victor Martinez on a short pop fly to right before fanning Andy Dirks. He had Infante down to his last strike, but the Detroit infielder laced a slider into the left-field corner as Fielder broke from first.
Gordon got to the ball quickly and fired it back to shortstop Alcides Escobar, whose relay throw to Salvador Perez was in time for the Royals' catcher to put a sweeping tag on Fielder as he tried a hook slide.
"Perez made a terrific pick of the ball at home plate and then the tag," said Tigers manager Jim Leyland. "It was one of those great plays to end the game, it just wasn't a play for us."
Detroit's best scoring chance up to that stage came in the seventh, when consecutive singles from Martinez and Dirks put two on with just one out. Santana then retired Infante on a slow grounder that advanced the runners prior to giving way to Will Smith, who induced a fly ball off the bat of Nick Castellanos that ended the inning.
Kansas City had an opportunity to extend the lead after Chris Getz worked a walk against Fister to begin the eighth and Hosmer followed with a bunt single. Getz was doubled off third on Billy Butler's line drive to Tigers' right fielder Torii Hunter, however, and Moustakas flied out after Perez was walked to load the bases.
Kansas City's Emilio Bonifacio was ejected by first base umpire James Hoye, who called the second baseman out on a pickoff attempt by Fister that ended the top of the third inning ... Hosmer is batting .444 (12-for-27) over a seven-game hitting streak ... Santana is now 6-1 in nine starts against Detroit since the start of the 2008 season ... Martinez was the lone Tiger to collect multiple hits, finishing 2-for-4.