DETROIT -- The Detroit Tigers gave their fans plenty to cheer about Wednesday night.
First the team honored long-time radio announcer Ernie Harwell, then the Tigers went out and beat the Kansas City Royals 4-3 to maintain their lead in the AL Central.Placido Polanco singled home the go-ahead run with two outs in the sixth inning as the Tigers, seeking their first division title since 1987, reduced their magic number to 13. Detroit leads Minnesota by 4 1/2 games."That's just the way we've played games all year," said Detroit shortstop Adam Everett, who drove in two runs, including the tying run in the sixth. "I don't know how to explain it. They've been beating us up pretty good and to get a win, and win in that fashion, was big for us."The victory ended the Tigers' five-game skid against Kansas City.Detroit saluted Harwell, who recently said he has inoperable cancer, during the third inning. The team showed a three-minute video tribute then the Hall of Fame announcer gave a thank-you speech to an appreciative and tearful crowd of 25,400."I think he really said some nice words," reliever Zach Miner said of Harwell, who spoke to the team before the game. "I think everyone kind of took it to heart and kind of realized that it's a game."The 91-year-old Hall of Fame broadcaster was in the Detroit booth from 1960 to 2002.Miner (7-5) and three other relievers kept the Royals scoreless over the final five innings. Fernando Rodney worked the ninth to earn his 33rd save in 34 chances.Everett and Curtis Granderson each drove in a run in Detroit's two-run fourth and Everett added his tying RBI single off starter Lenny DiNardo (0-1) in the sixth. Reliever Jamey Wright gave up Polanco's hit with two outs.Kansas City had runners at second and third to start the eighth after Bobby Seay gave up consecutive singles, but Brandon Lyon came on to induce a grounder to the mound and a strikeout before getting Alberto Callaspo to pop up to first."Obviously what Lyon did tonight was game-saving," Leyland said.The Royals lost their lead baserunner three times, including in the third when Yuniesky Betancourt was thrown out at the plate by Ryan Raburn. Tigers catcher Gerald Laird later caught his majors-best 34th runner trying to steal, when Willie Bloomquist failed to swipe second."Situational hitting and defense -- were weren't at either one and it cost us," Kansas City manager Trey Hillman said.Maier and Miguel Olivo had RBI singles and Alex Gordon added a sacrifice fly against starter Eddie Bonine.
Laird has thrown out 41 percent (34-of-83) baserunners this season. Detroit recalled RHP Alfredo Figaro (wrist) from the disabled list before the game. ... Royals OF David DeJesus singled in the eighth to match his career-best 16-game hitting streak. ... The Tigers saluted local veterans of World War II and a restored B-17 bomber flew over the ballpark after the national anthem.