Maier hit a bases-loaded triple in Kansas City's seven-run fifth inning and the Royals beat the slumping Tigers 10-4 on Wednesday night, completing a sweep of the three-game series.Brian Bannister (9-16) pitched six shutout innings for the fourth-place Royals, bidding to avoid the AL Central basement for the first time in five seasons. Kansas City has won 11 of its last 13 and outscored Detroit 21-6 during the series."The most satisfying thing this whole series has been how the team is playing," said Bannister, who has won two of his last three starts. "The guys right now have a lot of fire and they're playing well together."They're giving the pitching staff a lot of confidence."Nate Robertson (7-11) was charged with eight runs, seven earned, and seven hits in 4 2/3 innings for Detroit."I felt I was in the zone with every pitch," Robertson said. "But the walks got to me in the fifth and everything fell apart."Detroit, a popular preseason pick to win the AL pennant, is one game back of Kansas City and could finish last for the first time since 2003."We are just in an offensive funk right now," manager Jim Leyland said. "We have no excuses -- the guys are out there trying every night. We just can't get anything going."Placido Polanco hit a three-run homer and Mike Hessman added a solo shot for the Tigers, who have lost 12 of their last 13.Tony Pena Jr. and John Buck each drove in two runs for Kansas City as the bottom third of the order -- Buck, Pena and Maier -- went 5-for-12."We got a lot of production there tonight," manager Trey Hillman said. "It was good to see."Pena and Buck both had bases-loaded walks and Jose Guillen and Alex Gordon also drove in a run in the fifth before Maier's three-run triple.Gordon went 2-for-4 and scored two runs for the Royals, who finished with 13 hits.Hessman hit his fourth homer off Kip Wells in the seventh and Polanco's ninth-inning drive was against Ron Mahay.The Royals kept the Tigers from winning the Central in 2006 and could play the same role this weekend, when they end the season with a three-game series at Minnesota. Buck said the club is looking forward to it."It's a step forward to take and use," he said. "We want to finish up strong and have some positive momentum going into the offseason."That's the only thing we can control right now."
Royals RF David DeJesus left with right hip flexor tightness after batting in the first inning. He's listed as day to day. His strikeout ended a 14-game hitting streak. ... Detroit general manager Dave Dombrowski said Leyland will coach the team next season, the final year of his contract. ... Detroit's Freddy Garcia will face his former team Monday afternoon if the Tigers have to travel to Chicago to play a makeup game to decide the AL Central title. The game was rained out Sept. 12, but might be necessary if the Twins and White Sox end the season close enough to require the full season to be played. ... The Royals' 16 September wins are their most since the club went 15-13 in 1987. ... Detroit went 27-44 against the AL Central this season.