KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Austin Jackson capped off a big night at the plate and in the field with another clutch play.
Jackson hit a tiebreaking RBI single into right field in the eighth inning for his third hit of the game and the Detroit Tigers beat the Kansas City Royals 6-4 on Saturday."That's a reason why I've had success this year, being able to hit the ball the other way," Jackson said. "I'm just trying to stay with that approach and stay consistent with that and it's worked well for me."Jackson also hit a solo homer in the fifth for the Tigers (68-68), who have won three straight to reach .500 for the first time since Aug. 24.Kila Ka'aihue hit a tying two-run homer in the sixth and finished with three RBIs for the Royals. Billy Butler had three hits and drove in a run.Max St. Pierre and Will Rhymes set up Jackson's final hit with consecutive one-out singles. It was St. Pierre's first big league hit after 14-plus years in the minors and Rhymes extended his hitting streak to a career-high 12 games."It was even better than I thought," St. Pierre said. "The crowd stood up. It was an unbelievable feeling. I had to hold myself back not to cry. I said I can't start crying here, they're going to think I'm a baby. It took 14 years to get here, but I'd do it all over again."Jackson then singled on Blake Wood's first pitch, driving in pinch-runner Brennan Boesch. Rhymes scored on Lucas May's passed ball to make it 6-4."A guy like that who throws hard, if he gives you a first-pitch fastball that you can handle, you want to try to jump on it as soon as possible with runners in scoring position," Jackson said. "He has secondary pitches that are pretty nasty. I was just looking for a fastball to hit early in the count."In the sixth, Jackson raced to the warning track to rob Alex Gordon of extra bases."I like making the catch," more than the hits, Jackson said. "That's fun to me, trying to keep some runs off the board. That's what I take pride in."Rick Porcello (8-11) pitched seven innings for the Tigers, yielding four runs and seven hits. Jose Valverde worked the ninth for his 25th save in 28 opportunities.Royals reliever Dusty Hughes (1-2) was charged with two runs, one earned, and two hits, recording just one out in the loss.Miguel Cabrera, who missed Friday's game due to left biceps tendinitis, helped Detroit get off to a fast start with a two-run double in the first that increased his major league-best total to 110 RBIs.Jhonny Peralta drove in Johnny Damon with a sacrifice fly in the third, making it 3-0.The Royals responded with consecutive two-out singles by Gregor Blanco, Mitch Maier, Butler and Ka'aihue in the bottom half, cutting it to 3-2. Butler and Ka'aihue drove in the runs.Bruce Chen, who leads the Royals with nine victories, allowed four runs and six hits in 4 2/3 innings."It was tough," Chen said. "I felt like I was battling all day. I didn't have my good stuff, but I just felt I threw a lot of pitches and they were fouling them off. They were tough."Ka'aihue tied it in the sixth with an opposite-field drive with Butler aboard. It was his third homer this season, with each coming against the Tigers."That was a big home run by Kila, the opposite way, which was good to see," Royals manager Ned Yost said.
Both starting catchers, St. Pierre and May, made their big leagues debuts. St. Pierre, at 30 years, 141 days old, became the second-oldest Tigers position player to make his big league debut. Mike Roarke was 30 years, 162 days old when he debuted for the Tigers on April 19, 1961, at Cleveland.