2 - 1 Final
  for this game

Verlander, Tigers beat Royals to take 1st place

Jul 10, 2011 - 9:54 PM Kansas City, MO (Sports Network) - After scoring 13 runs on Saturday, the Kansas City Royals were held to just one, but that's what happens when teams face Detroit's Justin Verlander.

Verlander (12-4) threw 7 2/3 innings of one-run ball as the Tigers took a 2-1 win over the Royals in the finale of a four-game series.

The Detroit ace, who allowed just six hits and fanned nine, was one of the best pitchers before the All-Star break and is part of the reason why the Tigers took first place in the American League Central during the final day of the first half.

Earlier Sunday, Cleveland lost to Toronto and Detroit moved a half-game in front of the Indians with a 49-43 first-half record.

Jeff Francis (3-10) had one of his better starts of the season but still suffered the loss, allowing two runs on four hits. He also struck out a season-high six batters for the Royals, who are 11 1/2 games behind Detroit in the AL Central cellar.

"Jeff (Francis) did exactly what we needed him to do and that was keep us in the game against Verlander and give us a chance," Royals outfielder Jeff Francoeur said. "We got a couple (chances) late there with an opportunity and we just weren't able to come through."

At this point of the season, a 2-0 lead would be all Verlander would need in the eighth. However, he got in a little trouble in the eighth that yielded the Royals' lone run.

Alcides Escobar and Chris Getz had back-to-back one-out singles to put runners on the corners. Verlander induced a Melky Cabrera flyout, but Getz stole second to put the tying run in scoring position with two down.

The Detroit hurler looked to have gotten out of the inning unharmed with an Alex Gordon dribbler to third base, but Brandon Inge fielded it cleanly and sailed the ball over the head of Miguel Cabrera to allow Escobar to score.

Joaquin Benoit then came in and was able to end the inning with a Billy Butler strikeout. Tigers closer Jose Valverde shut out the Royals in the ninth to get his 24th save of the season.

"I really just tried not to do too much," Verlander said about the game where temperatures reached the upper 90s. "I tried to take it easy and leave something in the tank for when I needed it. I knew it would be a grind out there as hot as it was, so I really took my time between pitches and tried to slow things down a little bit. I felt like that helped."

After Francis retired the first nine batters he saw, Casper Wells broke the streak with a leadoff double in the fourth. Wells then scored the game's first run on Brennan Boesch's sharp grounder up the middle that was deflected by second baseman Getz.

Detroit added a run to its lead in the sixth when Wells drew a one-out walk and stole second before scoring on Magglio Ordonez's line drive into center.

Game Notes

Because Verlander pitched on Sunday, he was ruled ineligible to throw in Tuesday's All-Star game. Seattle's Michael Pineda will fill his spot on the roster...Detroit is 6-3 against the Royals this season and has won 12 of the last 18 matchups between the two clubs...Verlander improved to 12-2 versus the Royals in his career.