DETROIT (AP) — Alex Gordon’s grounder up the middle looked like a routine out — until it hit second base and took a wacky bounce, allowing the game’s first run to score.
With breaks like that, it’s no wonder the Kansas City Royals have won 10 in a row.
Omar Infante added a solo homer and Jeremy Guthrie pitched impressively into the seventh inning, helping the Royals extend their longest winning streak in 20 years with a 2-1 victory over the Detroit Tigers on Wednesday.
Kansas City has outpitched, outhit and outfielded the Tigers in taking the first three games of this series — so the Royals have no reason to apologize for a little luck along the way.
“Baseball’s a funny game — you’ve got to take full advantage of those,” Kansas City’s Eric Hosmer said. “We’re not complaining about it either.”
The AL Central-leading Royals have not won this many games in a row since a run of 14 in 1994. They extended their division lead over the Tigers to 1 1/2 games.
Guthrie (4-6) allowed four hits and struck out nine in 6 2-3 innings. Drew Smyly (3-6) nearly matched him, but the Detroit left-hander was victimized by Gordon’s fluky RBI single in the first inning and Infante’s homer in the fifth.
J.D. Martinez homered off Guthrie in the seventh, but the Kansas City bullpen got the last seven outs, with Greg Holland pitching the ninth for his 21st save in 22 chances.
Kansas City will try for a four-game sweep of the Tigers on Thursday. The Royals began the series by pounding star right-handers Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer, then Guthrie took the mound and breezed through the team that has won the last three division titles.
“This could be the best game he’s thrown all year,” Kansas City manager Ned Yost said. “He was fabulous. … We had to go back to our old way of doing things — pitching and defense.”
It was Guthrie’s second straight game with nine strikeouts — he also reached the mark June 13 against the Chicago White Sox. He had some help Wednesday from his fielders, as Gordon saved a run in the fourth with a diving catch in left-center.
“I’m not that fast, but I can turn it on when I want to,” the Kansas City left fielder said.
Fortune seemed to favor the Royals throughout the afternoon. With a runner on second in the first, Gordon’s two-out bouncer up the middle looked like a groundout to the shortstop, but it ricocheted off second base for a hit, allowing Hosmer to come home.
In the second, Detroit’s Victor Martinez dropped a nice bunt against a shifted defense, only to have the ball roll foul inches before reaching third base.
J.D. Martinez homered in the seventh, and Nick Castellanos nearly tied it later in the inning with a two-out drive to left that bounced off the fence for a double. Kelvin Herrera relieved Guthrie and retired Don Kelly on a lineout to center.
Wade Davis struck out the side in the eighth, and Holland made it through the ninth after allowing a leadoff single to Miguel Cabrera.
Smyly allowed two runs and seven hits in seven-plus innings. He struck out six without a walk.
The Tigers have lost 20 of 29 to fall out of first place. During his postgame news conference, Detroit manager Brad Ausmus replied sarcastically to a question about how his mood is when he heads home after these tough defeats.
“I beat my wife,” Ausmus said, clearly trying to joke. “I’m just kidding around. No, luckily my wife and kids are fantastic. I do get a little mopey at home, but my wife and kids are good.”
About a minute later, without being prompted, Ausmus said he was sorry.
“I didn’t want to make light of battered women,” the first-year manager said. “I didn’t mean to make light of that, so I apologize for that if that offended anyone.”
NOTES: Kansas City OF Nori Aoki (groin) and Detroit OF Torii Hunter (hamstring) did not play. … Royals C Salvador Perez extended his hitting streak to 12 games with a ninth-inning single. … Detroit 2B Ian Kinsler made a nice diving stop on Infante’s grounder in the third. … Kansas City LHP Danny Duffy (4-5) faces Detroit RHP Anibal Sanchez (3-2) on Thursday.