Tigers ride three-run eighth to beat Royals

KANSAS CITY (Reuters) - The Detroit Tigers scored three runs with two outs in the eighth inning then held off a Kansas City Royals rally for a 4-2 victory on Saturday.

Detroit, however, allowed the Royals back into the game when starter Justin Verlander left with runners at first and third with no outs, and relievers Joel Zumaya and Phil Coke combined for just one out while allowing two runs.

Tigers' closer Jose Valverde, however, was then brought in early by manager Jim Leyland and he got Mike Aviles to hit into a double play to end the threat. He then pitched a scoreless ninth to earn his 12th save of the season.

"I never like to bring my closer in the eighth," Leyland told reporters. "But I did, and Valverde did a great job. I just had no choice."

Valverde, however, was not concerned at his earlier than expected trip to the mound from the bullpen.

"This is my job," Valverde said. "I will go two and three innings on back-to-back days if that is what it takes. You just have to be focused.

"When you are the closer, you have to be ready in any situation to throw strikes and make the pitches you want."

Verlander improved to 6-4 allowing two earned runs in seven innings on five hits while striking out four and walking three.

Royals' starter Blake Hochevar took the loss while allowing one run in seven innings, striking out a season high 10 batters and walking four.

(Reporting by Mike Mouat in Windsor, Ontario; Editing by Greg Stutchbury)