Homers and defense lead Royals past Tigers

Detroit Tigers Nicholas Castellanos hits an RBI triple against the Cleveland Indians during the seventh inning in the first baseball game of a doubleheader in Detroit, Saturday, July 1, 2017. (AP Photo/Rick Osentoski)

DETROIT (AP) — The Kansas City Royals hit three homers and got two spectacular defensive plays in a 7-6 victory over the Detroit Tigers on Monday afternoon.

Eric Hosmer, Salvador Perez and Alcides Escobar homered for the Royals, but the biggest plays of the game came on defense. Alex Gordon reached well over the left-field fence to rob Mikie Mahtook of a three-run homer, while Lorenzo Cain’s sliding catch took two RBIs away from Jose Iglesias.

Since trading Justin Verlander and Justin Upton on Thursday, the Tigers are 0-5 and have been outscored 36-11.

The Tigers trailed 7-3 going into the ninth, but Nicholas Castellanos hit a three-run homer off Brandon Maurer with one out. Maurer struck out Efren Navarro before James McCann and Jeimer Candelario singled to put the potential winning run on base.

Scott Alexander replaced Maurer and retired Mahtook for his third save in five chances.

Jake Junis (7-2) improved to 5-0 in his last seven starts, giving up three runs on seven hits in five innings. He struck out three without walking a batter.

Artie Lewicki (0-1) pitched five innings in his major league debut, allowing five runs on 11 hits and a walk. He struck out one.

The Royals took a 1-0 lead in the first. Whit Merrifield led off with a single, took second on a groundout, stole third and scored on Eric Hosmer’s two-out base hit.

Merrifield and Cain started the third with singles, and both scored on Melky Cabrera’s double. Hosmer followed with his 23rd homer to make it 5-0.

The Tigers had a chance to get on the board in their half of the third, but Andrew Romine was thrown out at the plate while trying to score from second on an infield single.

Kansas City loaded the bases off Lewicki in the fourth, but Salvador Perez ended the inning by flying out to deep left-center.

Gordon timed his jump perfectly to bring back Mahtook’s three-run homer. The catch was within a couple feet of the spot where Mahtook spiked Jose Ramirez’s ball over the wall on Sunday.

The Tigers came back with three runs in the fifth. Romine and Jose Iglesias led off with back-to-back doubles, making it 5-1, and Alex Presley’s triple scored Iglesias. Castellanos hit a sacrifice fly.

Kansas City’s defense struck again in the sixth, with Cain grabbing Iglesias’ sinking liner off the grass with runners on second and third.

Perez hit his 22nd homer off Daniel Stumpf in the seventh, making it 6-3, and Alcides Escobar hit his fourth off Drew VerHagen in the eighth.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Royals: RHP Kelvim Herrera (forearm strain) was not available for Monday’s game, but could pitch later in the three-game series.

Tigers: RHP Jordan Zimmermann (neck strain) became the latest Tigers starter to go down with an injury. He will consult a specialist about the injury, which has been a problem since last season, and could be out for the year. In the last month, four members of Detroit’s rotation — Zimmermann, Michael Fulmer, Daniel Norris and Anibal Sanchez — have sustained injuries. The fifth, Justin Verlander, was traded.

TOUGH DEBUT

Since 1913, only one Tigers starting pitcher has allowed more hits in his major-league debut than Lewicki’s 11. On April 19, 1921, Carl Holling gave up 13 hits (and 12 runs) in his debut against the Cleveland Indians. Holling’s career ended the next year after 40 games, including 12 starts.

UP NEXT

Sanchez (3-3, 6.95) will return to Detroit’s rotation for the first time since straining a hamstring on Aug. 16 in Texas. He faces Jason Vargas (14-9, 3.87). Although Vargas is having the better season, he is 3-5 with a 6.03 ERA in 11 career starts against Detroit, while Sanchez is 6-5 with a 2.94 ERA in 16 appearances against the Royals.