Even after the three-day All-Star break, the Royals stayed hot with an 8-1 thumping of Detroit on Thursday night at Tiger Stadium. The win was the seventh in a row for Kansas City.
Although Tigers starter Dave Roberts worked a perfect first inning, Al Cowens led off the second with a single. John Mayberry then hit his 15th home run of the year for a 2-0 lead.
Roberts retired the next three batters, but the Royals were back on the attack in the third. Frank White led off with a single and reached second on a groundout. Hal McRae doubled to drive in White. With two outs, Cowens jumped back into a tie for the team lead in home runs with Mayberry, hitting his 15th of the year for a 5-0 lead.
Royals starter Paul Splittorff retired the first eight batters he faced, a streak broken by Tom Veryzer with a two-out single in the third. Cowens then dropped a Ron LeFlore fly ball, keeping the inning alive. Tito Fuentes singled to get Detroit on the board.
The Royals added to their lead in the fifth. George Brett started the inning with a double against Tigers reliever Steve Grilli, who had finished the third inning for Roberts. Amos Otis singled with one out, with Brett stopping at third. Cowens delivered again, with an RBI single pushing the lead to 6-1.
A two-out rally in the sixth removed all doubt about the outcome of this game. Brett began the rally with a single. Grilli hit McRae with a pitch and walked Otis to load the bases. Cowens hit a popup that first baseman Jason Thompson dropped in front of the dugout. Given a reprieve, Cowens singled to center field, driving in two more runs for the first five-RBI game of his career.
Splittorff took it from there, retiring nine of the next 10 hitters before wobbling a little in the ninth. Fuentes started that inning with a single, and Splittorff hit Kemp with a pitch with one out. But the lefthander recovered to get the final two outs, picking up his eighth win of the season with a four-hitter.
The Royals improved to 52-38 with the win, and picked up a half-game on idle Chicago. They were now two games behind the White Sox in the AL West.
Box score and play-by-play:
Today’s birthdays: Moe Drabowsky (1935), Al Hrabosky (1949), Dave Henderson (1958)