Royals' Butler leads the way with four hits, four RBIs

" Join the club: Mark Grudzielanek also had a four-hit game for Kansas City.

" Unsung hero: Gil Meche allowed two runs and five hits in seven innings to improve to 4-0 in his last seven starts.

" Figure this: The Royals are 23-18 since June 1 after posting 22 straight losing months.

" Quotable: "I think we're proving every day that we're not nearly as bad as everyone thinks we are. People made fun of the Royals, but now they see that this isn't a bad team." -- Butler

-- ESPN.com news services

Royals 10, Tigers 2

DETROIT (AP) -- Billy Butler has heard a lot of jokes about the Kansas City Royals during his short major league career.

He's trying to make some of them obsolete.

The rookie had four hits and four RBIs on Friday night, leading Gil Meche and the Royals to a 10-2 victory over the Detroit Tigers.

"We kept talking about the struggles in the middle of our order, but Billy has taken care of that," Kansas City manager Buddy Bell said. "He's just got a knack for hitting, and that's an understatement."

Butler is hitting .333 with 25 RBIs in 32 games since making his major league debut on May 1. He was called up for good on June 19, and the Royals have gone 13-10 since.

"I think we're proving every day that we're not nearly as bad as everyone thinks we are," Butler said. "People made fun of the Royals, but now they see that this isn't a bad team."

Butler had a six-RBI game earlier this month, but isn't getting too excited about his streak.

"I try not to think about it," he said. "I had a good day today, but now I have to go right back out there and do it again tomorrow."

Mark Grudzielanek also had four hits for Kansas City, including three against Kenny Rogers to raise his career batting average against the left-hander to .643 (9-for-14).

Meche (7-6) improved to 4-0 in his last seven starts, giving up two runs and five hits in seven innings. Meche, who has a 1.50 ERA in his last four starts at Comerica Park, struck out five without walking a batter.

"I always seem to pitch well," Meche said. "My only guess is that it has something to do with that runway from the mound to the plate. Maybe it helps my aim."

Rogers (3-2) had his second poor start in a row after returning from injury with three straight wins. He allowed six runs -- five earned -- and nine hits in 6 1/3 innings. He is 0-2 with a 7.94 ERA since the All-Star break.

"I'm not unhappy with what I did today, but I didn't get enough outs," he said. "I made good pitches with bad results."

Both teams scored single runs in the first. Kansas City got an RBI groundout from Butler before Gary Sheffield tied the score with his 23rd homer.

"I wasn't too worried about the homer," Meche said. "I got a pitch a little up, and that guy can hook any pitcher alive out of the park if they elevate the ball."

The Royals took a 4-1 lead in the third thanks to mental lapses by two excellent defenders.

Kansas City loaded the bases with one out and Butler lined a single to center. Esteban German scored easily from third, but Curtis Granderson had a chance to cut down Grudzielanek at the plate.

His throw was up the third-base line, however, and it skipped away from catcher Ivan Rodriguez. He and Rogers, who have combined for 17 Gold Gloves, both went after the loose ball, and Mark Teahen alertly raced to the unprotected plate before first baseman Sean Casey could get there.

The Tigers cut the margin to 4-2 on Magglio Ordonez's RBI single, but Kansas City came right back with two runs in the seventh and four in the ninth.

Detroit manager Jim Leyland left Rogers in for the seventh -- the first time he'd gone that far this season -- but German doubled on his first pitch and Grudzielanek followed with another double.

"I might have extended him too far," Leyland said. "His control wasn't good and he wasn't crisp."

Butler greeted reliever Jose Capellan with an RBI single, making it 6-2. Butler faced Capellan again with two on and none out in the ninth and singled to load the bases.

David DeJesus followed with a blooper to left that turned into a wild play. First, Grudzielanek held up to see if Timo Perez would make the catch, then had to sprint to the plate to avoid being passed by Teahen.

At the same time, Perez's throw sailed into the dugout for an error, letting Butler score from third.

Emil Brown followed with an RBI groundout to make it 10-2.

"They just beat us up," Leyland said. "That about sums it up."

Game notes
Rogers was making his first appearance against Kansas City since losing in relief on the final day of last season -- the game that finished the Royals' improbable three-game sweep and handed the AL Central title to the Twins. ... Grudzielanek matched a career high with four runs scored. ... The Royals are 4-3 on a road trip against three of the American League's best teams -- Boston, Cleveland and the Tigers. ... The game marked the start of the annual Negro Leagues tribute weekend, and the Tigers celebrated by putting up a plaque honoring Detroit Stars Hall of Famer Turkey Stearnes.