Detroit, MI – Delmon Young's two-run home run was the difference as the Detroit Tigers topped the Kansas City Royals, 4-2, in the opener of a three-game series at Comerica Park.
Quintin Berry added a two-run triple for the Tigers, who won their third straight game to reach .500 (42-42) for the first time since they were 18-18 on May 15.
Drew Smyly (4-3) allowed two runs on six hits while striking out a career-high 10 batters over six innings to earn the win. Jose Valverde retired the side in order in the ninth to record his 16th save of the year.
Jonathan Sanchez (1-5) gave up four runs on six hits and three walks through 5 2/3 innings to take the loss for Kansas City, which lost for the sixth time in eight games.
"He kept us in the game. I thought he threw the ball much better and it's something to build off of I hope," Royals manager Ned Yost said about Sanchez.
Detroit broke the scoreless tie in the third inning when Ramon Santiago and Austin Jackson hit consecutive one-out singles before both came home on Berry's triple into the right-center field gap.
Berry would be stranded at third as a pair of groundouts by Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder ended the inning and kept it a 2-0 game.
Smyly, meanwhile, recorded nine strikeouts over the first four innings and retired 10 straight batters until Mike Moustakas' one-out ground-rule double in the fifth inning.
Two batters later, Brayan Pena pulled a double into left-center field to plate Moustakas. Jason Bourgeois followed with a base hit up the middle to bring home Pena and knot the game at two runs apiece.
After the Royals stranded runners on second and third in the top of the sixth inning, Detroit regained the lead in the bottom of the frame when Young followed Fielder's leadoff single with a home run to left field.
The Tigers' bullpen handled it from there, as Brayan Villarreal and Phil Coke combined to toss a scoreless seventh inning before Joaquin Benoit worked a perfect eighth and Valverde shut the door in the ninth to preserve the win.
"It was a good game all around for us. Our bullpen did a terrific job, what they are supposed to do," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "That was a nice Friday night for us."
Jackson extended his hitting streak to a career-high 13 games...Smyly, a rookie, earned consecutive wins for the first time in his career...Sanchez has not won since his season debut on April 8. He missed some time in May while on the disabled list with left biceps tendinitis...Detroit has won 15 of the last 21 games against the Royals.