DETROIT – Things were so bad for the Kansas City Royals Tuesday night that Jeff Francoeur got called out twice on a double.
The umpires got that call right, but the Royals couldn't fix all of the other mistakes in a 9-3 loss to the Detroit Tigers.
The bizarre play happened in the ninth inning. Francoeur hit a drive to left-center that hit the top of the fence and bounced straight into the air. Tigers center fielder Austin Jackson reached over the wall and into the Kansas City bullpen and caught the ball, saving a homer.
At that point, second-base umpire Tim McClelland — umpiring his 4,000th game — mistakenly called Francoeur out before realizing his mistake. A baffled Francoeur stopped running between second and third, and was tagged out by Detroit's Ramon Santiago.
"I was confused as heck, because I was pretty sure that you weren't supposed to be out when someone catches the ball off the wall," Francoeur said. "I had just been upset that Jackson caught it and cost me a home run. Tim immediately apologized to me and made the play right."
McClelland acknowledged his error, saying he had been focused on whether the ball was a home run or not.
"You would think that a guy with 4,000 games would have enough experience to not do something like that," he said, comparing the final decision to an inadvertent whistle in basketball.
No matter what McClelland had called, it wouldn't have been enough for the Royals to overcome Luke Hochevar's terrible start. Hochevar (2-2) allowed nine runs in four innings, including five in the first.
"I put us in a 5-0 hole in one inning, and that's tough for the guys to crawl out of," he said. "I didn't execute quality pitches. It's about as simple as that."
Rick Porcello (2-2) took advantage of the offensive support to snap out of his slump, allowing three runs and seven hits. In his previous two starts, the right-hander was 0-2 with a 15.26 ERA, but things changed after a mechanical adjustment suggested by Tigers pitching coach Jeff Jones.
"Jonesy just suggested something to slow down my delivery," Porcello said. "My biggest problem has been my tempo — I'm getting out too quick and leaving pitches up in the zone. Today, we slowed everything down."
Austin Jackson had four hits for the Tigers, matching a career high and raising his batting average to .314. Jackson, who hit .249 with 181 strikeouts last year, is only the second Tiger since 1918 to have three four-hit games this early in the season.
"I'm not sure what is causing it, I'm just trying to time the ball and put good swings up," he said. "I'm doing my best to get into scoring position and let the guys behind me do their jobs."
The teams were rained out Monday night, Kansas City's second rainout in three days. The Royals have lost two straight following a three-game winning streak that came on the heels of a 12-game skid.
"That's two straight terrible games after rainouts," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "I hope we get some good weather for a while."
After the Royals went down in order in the first, the Tigers put their first seven batters on base and needed just 17 pitches to do it. After two singles and Miguel Cabrera's double made it 1-0, Eric Hosmer's wild throw from first base to the plate allowed two more runs to score.
The next three Tigers singled, increasing the margin to 5-0, before Ramon Santiago grounded into a double play and Don Kelly popped out to end the inning.
Detroit added three more runs in the third on an RBI single by Kelly and Jackson's two-run double before Jhonny Peralta made it 9-0 with a run-scoring single in the fourth.
Kansas City got on the board with an RBI groundout by Humberto Quintero in the fifth, and Alex Gordon made it 9-2 with a double in the sixth. Jarrod Dyson led off the eighth with a stand-up triple and scored on Gordon's groundout.
NOTES: Dirks, filling in for suspended Delmon Young, left the game in the fourth inning after aggravating his strained left hamstring. Brad Eldred replaced him. It was the first career pinch-running appearance for the 31-year-old. ... Tigers manager Jim Leyland said before the game that he does not plan to start Young when he returns Friday from a seven-day suspension, wanting to give him a day to "run around and get loose." ... Hosmer went 0-4 to extend his hitless streak to 19 at-bats. "He crushed three balls, and didn't get anything out of it," Yost said. "That's what happens when you are in a streak like that."