KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Miguel Cabrera is so locked in at the plate that he’s even hitting tough pitches.
Cabrera homered on a pitch that was way inside to help Detroit beat Kansas City 4-1 on Sunday and avoid being swept.
James Shields thought the pitch was way inside to Cabrera. So did Kansas City Royals manager Ned Yost.
It made no difference was. Cabrera knocked it 387 feet down the left-field line for his 31st home run.
“That pitch was way, way inside,” Yost said. “That ball was five inches inside. You’ve got to tip your cap to him for keeping that ball fair.”
Said Shields, “That’s why he’s the best hitter in the game.”
Cabrera, who is second in the league to Chris Davis of the Baltimore Orioles, drove the 1-1 pitch out in the first inning.
“That ball is in on his hands, he hit it hard and kept it fair,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. “He’s just an amazing hitter and we know that.”
Cabrera,the reigning AL MVP, leads the majors with 96 RBIs and 134 hits. Cabrera’s home run was his 352nd, passing Dick Allen and tying Ellis Burks for 86th on the all-time list.
“I’m not looking for it (inside),” Cabrera said of the pitch. “I just reacted.”
Doug Fister (8-5) picked up the victory with six strong innings, yielding a run, while allowing six hits and striking out five and walking one.
“It was a constant battle from the first pitch,” Fister said. “I’ve been on the mound (over the break), but I was shaking off rust and getting back out there, but I felt great from the first pitch to the last.
“The biggest focus was to get the ball down and around the knees. We executed with that on the better side and that’s going to continue to be our focus.”
Miguel Tejada tied it in the second with his third home run and the 307th of his career, but that was the only run the Royals could muster off Fister and three relievers. Tejada took an 0-1 Fister pitch out to left.
Andy Dirks broke the tie with a home run with one out in the fifth to straightaway center, just eluding Jarrod Dyson’s leap at the wall.
It was a two-game swing in the standings for the Tigers. A Royals’ victory would have pulled them within five of the division leaders, but instead they are seven games back.
“You’re always mad when you get a chance to sweep a team and don’t do it,” Dyson said. “We’re just trying to creep back into it.”
The Tigers tacked on a run in the seventh. They loaded the bases with none out on Prince Fielder, Victor Martinez and Jhonny Peralta singles. Peralta’s single was off Shields’ inner right thigh, but he remained in the game after being checked out by the trainer.
“It hurt really bad,” Shields said.
Brayan Pena, a former Royal, brought home Fielder with a sacrifice fly to center.
Shields (4-7), who has won only one of 10 home starts, took the loss, giving up three runs on nine hits, while striking out six in seven innings.
“Anytime you give up three runs in seven innings, you’ve done a good job” Yost said.
Pena contributed another sacrifice fly in the ninth off Kelvin Herrera, this one scoring Peralta, who doubled with one out and stopped at third on Dirks’ single to left.
Joaquin Benoit worked the ninth to log his ninth save in as many opportunities.
Fister plunked Salvador Perez with a pitch in the third and leads the majors with 14 hit batters.
Notes: 2B Chris Getz was held out of the lineup with a mild medial left knee sprain, which he injured in the fifth inning Saturday. Manager Ned Yost said Getz was available. Miguel Tejada replaced Getz at second. … Tigers CF Austin Jackson snapped an 0-for-18 with a sixth inning single. … RHP Wade Davis, who starts Monday against Baltimore, is looking for his first Royals’ victory since June 16. … RHP Max Scherzer, who starts Monday for the Tigers at Chicago, is coming off his first loss of the season. Scherzer went 13-0 in his first 18 starts before falling 7-1 on July 13 to Texas, allowing four runs on eight hits in six innings.