Kansas City, MO (SportsNetwork.com) - Norichika Aoki's two-run triple in the fourth inning helped the Kansas City Royals pull a game closer to the AL Central-leading Detroit Tigers with a 5-2 victory on Sunday.
The Royals salvaged the finale of this key three-game series to get within 1 1/2 games of the division front-runners. They also stayed ahead in the wild card race and currently hold a 1 1/2 game edge over the Mariners.
"I don't want them caught up to the point where it affects their game, but you got to be caught up in the moment. This is great fun," said Kansas City manager Ned Yost.
Jeremy Guthrie (12-11) shook off an ugly start against Detroit earlier this month, holding them to two runs -- one earned -- over 5 1/3 innings.
Two weeks ago, the Tigers knocked Guthrie out in the third inning en route to a 9-5 victory, one of 13 over their division rivals this year.
On Sunday, however, it was Rick Porcello (15-12) getting the early hook. Porcello was touched for four runs on nine hits before being pulled with one out in the fourth.
"It's gonna come down to the wire," Porcello said.
Aoki broke a 2-2 tie in the deciding frame when his chopper down the first- base line scooted past Victor Martinez. Omar Infante and Mike Moustakas both came around to score, and Alex Gordon added an insurance run with an RBI double in the seventh.
Greg Holland tossed a perfect ninth to collect his 43rd save and cap a bullpen effort that limited the Tigers to one hit over the final 3 2/3 innings.
Three consecutive two-out singles got the Royals on the board in the first inning, with Billy Butler's base hit to center scoring Lorenzo Cain.
Alcides Escobar doubled in another run with two away in the home second, but the Tigers got the run back in their next turn as Ian Kinsler hit a leadoff homer just inside the left-field foul pole.
Detroit scored the tying run in the fourth when Moustakas dropped Gordon's relay throw and the ball trickled toward the home dugout.
The Tigers went hitless in eight chances with runners in scoring position ... Porcello has dropped four straight decisions ... Detroit still won the season series 13-6 ... The Royals will finish a suspended contest on Monday in Cleveland trailing 4-2 in the 10th inning.