Alex Gordon homers as Royals avoid Tigers sweep

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Kyle Davies tried to forget his struggles against the Detroit Tigers, who were 5-0 against him in Kansas City.

The ploy worked as Davies went six strong innings and three relievers worked one hitless inning apiece, leading the Royals to a 2-1 victory Sunday afternoon over a team that routinely mauls the soft-spoken right-hander.

"Knowing they've had a lot of success against me, I thought if I'm aggressive and I pitch to my strengths, it should work against anyone," Davies said.

Alex Gordon hit the go-ahead home run on reliever Brad Thomas' first pitch in the sixth as the Royals avoided a three-game sweep.

"I know Davies put pitches where you couldn't do much with it," said Detroit third baseman Brandon Inge.

Davies (7-9) had been 2-7 lifetime against the Tigers and even worse at home -- 0-5 with a 6.59 ERA. But on this day, he allowed only one run on three hits, walked three and struck out four. His worst pitch may have been the one Casper Wells drove over the fence in the fifth.

"Historically, these guys have given me problems," he said. Even though Wells took him deep, Davies figured it was a break for him when he replaced an ailing Ryan Raburn in the lineup.

"[Raburn] has probably been about .600 off me," said Davies. "Tonight I had a much better changeup. The bullpen did an awesome job."

Joakim Soria had two strikeouts while pitching a perfect ninth to extend his club record with 30 consecutive saves. The right-hander has not allowed a score in 17 straight innings, spanning his last 17 outings. He has converted 37 of 39 save opportunities this season.

The Tigers were trying to climb above .500 for the first time since July 31.

"I was a little disappointed today," said Tigers manager Jim Leyland. "I thought it was a rather lackluster offensive performance. I thought Davies was throwing a little harder today. You're not going to win any games normally with three hits."

Billy Butler, who had singled, was on second when Wilson Betemit lifted a high fly ball to deep right field in the first. Brennan Boesch got turned around and appeared perhaps to lose the ball in the sun before it fell behind him and bounced over the wall for an RBI double.

"It took off a little more than I thought," said Boesch.

Thomas (5-2) relieved starter Armando Galarraga starting the sixth and Gordon smacked his first pitch for his seventh home run.

"I just being aggressive, and when I do get my fastball hit it, and I was able to do something with it," said Gordon. "It was high in the zone."

Galarraga practically matched Davies pitch for pitch, working five innings and allowing four hits and the one slightly tainted run.

The Royals loaded the bases in the third on Butler's double and two-out walks to Betemit and Gordon. But Galarraga escaped by getting Brayan Pena to fly out on a 3-2 pitch.

In the Detroit fifth, Alex Avila walked, went to second on a balk and advanced to third on first baseman Butler's fielding error. But with two outs and the bases loaded, Johnny Damon fanned on a 3-2 pitch.

It was the second straight good outing for Davies, who allowed only two earned runs in 8 1/3 innings against Texas last Friday.

"At times with Kyle in the past, there was some uncertainity on what you were going to get," said Royals manager Ned Yost. "Is he going to throw a great game? Is he going to have 110 pitches after four innings? Putting two quality games back-to-back like that is a big step."

Game notes
Gil Meche, who opted not to have shoulder had another impressive outing out of the bullpen. The former starter pitched a 1-2-3 seventh inning. ... Soria has shattered the Royals former record of 24 consecutive saves set by Jeff Montgomery. ... Since the start of the 2006 season, the Tigers are 29-16 in Kauffman Stadium.