DETROIT (AP) — James Shields allowed two hits over seven innings in another terrific performance, and the Kansas City Royals edged Detroit 3-0 on Wednesday night to take a one-game lead over the Tigers atop the AL Central.
Shields (14-7) gave up a single to Ian Kinsler leading off the first. Then he picked off Kinsler — and retired every other batter he faced until another Detroit single in the seventh. The Tigers put two on that inning, but Shields worked out of the jam.
Kelvin Herrera pitched the eighth and Wade Davis finished for his third save.
Rick Porcello (15-11) pitched well for the Tigers, but Kansas City pushed across two runs in the fourth on RBI singles by Salvador Perez and Lorenzo Cain.
Alcides Escobar added a sacrifice fly in the ninth.
Detroit won the first two games of the series to pull into a virtual tie for first in the division, but the Royals avoided a sweep. The teams have a three-game series in Kansas City that starts Sept. 19.
Shields was acquired in December 2012 in a trade that sent top prospect Wil Myers to Tampa Bay. Myers won Rookie of the Year honors last season, but now Shields has helped put the Royals in contention for their first postseason appearance since 1985.
He came within two outs of a shutout in New York on Friday in a 1-0 win over the Yankees, and the Tigers didn’t fare any better against the 32-year-old right-hander. Shields struck out eight and walked one on Wednesday, throwing 98 pitches. Torii Hunter’s comebacker hit Shields in the back of his right leg in the first, but the Kansas City starter was able to continue.
In the seventh, Hunter managed a single and Miguel Cabrera walked, but Davis retired Victor Martinez on a deep fly and struck out J.D. Martinez.
Porcello allowed two runs and seven hits in 6 2-3 innings, striking out seven without a walk. He allowed consecutive singles to Josh Willingham, Eric Hosmer and Perez with one out in the fourth, and Cain’s two-out single made it 2-0.
The game was delayed 42 minutes by rain at the start, and in the fourth it was raining hard enough to send fans toward the concourse, but there were no more delays.
Royals: All-Star closer Greg Holland sat out again, despite the tight score in the late innings. He hasn’t pitched since Sept. 3 because of a triceps issue.
Tigers: RHP Joakim Soria (left oblique strain) was activated from the disabled list before the game. He allowed a run in the ninth. … Left-handed reliever Phil Coke left in the eighth with an apparent injury after being unable to field Hosmer’s bunt.
Royals: RHP Liam Hendriks (1-1) starts in Boston against Clay Buchholz (7-8) on Thursday night. Kansas City LHP Danny Duffy is missing that turn in the rotation because of a sore shoulder.
Tigers: Detroit has an off day Thursday, followed by a home series against Cleveland. Tigers LHP David Price (13-11) starts against Cleveland RHP Carlos Carrasco (7-4) on Friday night.