KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -- Miguel Cabrera provided the power and Justin Verlander the pitching. Still, the Detroit Tigers needed a lucky break to survive a ninth-inning scare from the Kansas City Royals.
Cabrera hit two homers and Verlander pitched 6 2/3 scoreless innings as the Tigers held on for a 4-3 victory Friday night.
The game ended when David DeJesus, who was on third, was thrown out trying to score on a pitch Fernando Rodney threw to the backstop. Ross Gload, who had four hits to match his career high, was batting for the Royals. The ball took a true bounce back to catcher Brandon Inge, who made a perfect throw to Rodney covering home.
"It hit between two signs, but there is a seam, where they have the pads that run down vertically, it hit right in the middle of that," Inge said. "You're talking about an inch or two and it could have hit the seam and kicked to the right or the left. It didn't come back too far anyway. I was in the gravel. That was very fortunate. That's what that was."
"You don't see many games end like that," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "That's not how you figure the game is going to end when you bring in your closer with a three-run lead in the ninth. All is well that turned out well."
Said Verlander, "I've never seen that happen like that. I'm glad it did happen that way, just like we wrote it up."
The Royals have lost six straight, nine of 10 and 13 of 15. They have been outscored 105-42 in the 15 games.
"We checked on the tape and saw I didn't get a big enough lead," DeJesus said. "That would have given me a better opportunity. When I saw Rodney with the ball, I tried to avoid him."
Royals catcher John Buck was on deck when the game ended.
"The ball shot back to Inge really quickly," Buck said. "It didn't look like he had to go right or left. It sometimes dies back there. It's my backstop, so I know. But it hit the post. It literally cut down 15, 20 feet, which that is what he got thrown out by."
Cabrera, who has 11 home runs and 42 RBIs in 34 games since the All-Star break, led off the second with a homer off Brian Bannister. He hit a solo shot with two outs in the sixth, also off Bannister. It was Cabrera's third two-homer game this season and the 12th of his career.
"It is pretty impressive the numbers he is putting up, especially after he started out a little slow," Verlander said.
Verlander (10-13) gave up eight hits, all singles, struck out six and walked three. He has not allowed an earned run in his past two starts, covering 13 2/3 innings, to lower his ERA to 4.42.
"That's the key, when you give up hits, give up singles," Verlander said. "Doubles and home runs are what hurt you and they start to score runs."
Bannister (7-13) is 0-7 with an 8.70 ERA in his past 10 starts. He went eight innings, allowing four runs and five hits, all for extra bases.
Verlander worked out of a bases loaded jam with one out in the sixth, striking out Buck and retiring Joey Gathright on a fielder's choice grounder. The Royals stranded 12 runners and were 3-for-12 with runners in scoring position.
"I got Buck with a curveball, probably one of the better ones I threw, a little up, but had a good break to it," Verlander said. "Gathright, he kept fouling off fastballs and I kept throwing them, finally he put one in play right at the shortstop."
Bannister hasn't won since June 23 over Colorado. He gave up a career-high 10 runs in one inning in a loss at New York on Sunday.
"What I felt in Yankee Stadium, I never want to feel that again," Bannister said. "I just went back to the way I pitched last year."
The Royals avoided a shutout when Gload singled and scored on Buck's triple off Gary Glover. It was Buck's first triple since Aug. 31, 2006, at Minnesota.
Mark Teahen started at third base for the first time since Sept. 5, 2006 with Royals 3B Alex Gordon out with a leg injury. ... The Royals have been outhomered 23-2 in the past 10 games. ... The Tigers have outscored the Royals 37-9 in their past four games at Kauffman Stadium.