KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Salvador Perez hit a three-run homer and had a career-high five RBIs, Yordano Ventura twice escaped bases-loaded jams and the Kansas City Royals held on to beat the Detroit Tigers 8-6 on Tuesday night.
The Tigers cut a six-run deficit in half when Jarrod Saltalamacchia homered for the third straight game in the seventh inning. Then they loaded the bases with one out against Joakim Soria in the eighth, but Kelvin Herrera retired Miguel Cabrera and J.D. Martinez around a hit batter to limit the damage.
Wade Davis breezed through the ninth inning for his sixth save.
Perez hit a two-out, two-run double in the third before his two-out shot in the fifth gave Kansas City an 8-2 lead.
Alcides Escobar drove in a pair of runs and Jarrod Dyson returned from the disabled list to add an RBI single in support of Ventura (1-0), who allowed two runs on six hits in five innings.
Cabrera had a pair of RBIs for Detroit, but he also struck out in his other four at-bats. Starting pitcher Shane Greene (1-1) was tagged for seven runs in 4 1-3 innings.
It was the first matchup between teams expected to battle all season for the AL Central, and for a while it appeared Round 1 would be a rout. The Royals scored three times in the second, stringing together hits and walks in trademark fashion, and tacked on two more runs when Perez laced his double down the left-field line.
Meanwhile, the Tigers did little to help out Greene.
The Royals scored their first run when Dyson singled to left in the second, but Kendrys Morales should have been out at the plate — the throw from Justin Upton easily beat him. The only problem was Saltalamacchia whiffed on a one-hopper, allowing Morales to chug right past him for the run.
The Tigers' offense was almost as bad as their defense, stranding 12 runners on base.
Cabrera and Martinez were baffled by Ventura with the bases loaded in the third. Then, when they seemed to get something going in the fifth, Mike Aviles slapped a routine flyball to right field to leave three more on base.
Luke Hochevar and the rest of Kansas City's bullpen struggled through the final four, helping Ventura earn his first win of the season and improve to 5-0 in six career starts against Detroit.
Dyson started in RF for Kansas City hours after being reinstated from the DL. The speedster had been rehabbing at Triple-A Omaha after straining his oblique in the first game of spring training.
The Royals put RHP Dillon Gee on the paternity list after his wife gave birth to a daughter, Charlotte, on Monday. They also optioned RF Reymond Fuentes to Omaha and recalled RHP Miguel Almonte from the same club, while the Tigers brought LHP Blaine Hardy off the DL and designated RHP Logan Kensing for assignment.
Tigers RHP Jordan Zimmermann (2-0, 0.00 ERA) and Royals RHP Ian Kennedy (2-0, 0.66) meet in a matchup of free agent pitchers who have lived up to expectations so far. Zimmermann has thrown 13 scoreless innings in two starts while Kennedy has allowed one run in 13 2-3 innings.