DETROIT -- First, Brandon Inge caught a foul popup while falling into the crowd. Then, Casper Wells went sliding across the grass to grab a line drive in right field.
Finally, Austin Jackson topped them both, running down a deep fly ball in center before reaching out and backhanding it with his back still turned to the infield.Brad Penny pitched eight scoreless innings for Detroit on Saturday, but he had plenty of help from his fielders as the Tigers beat the Kansas City Royals 3-0. Penny allowed five hits and no walks. He struck out only two, but the Tigers were ready when Kansas City's hitters put the ball in play."We had some awesome plays today," Penny said. "That's probably the best defense I've had, personally, in one start in my career."
Shiny new Penny
Detroit Tigers right-hander Brad Penny has been dominant over his past five starts, turning around his slow start to the season.
First 4 Starts
Last 5 Starts
Detroit has won seven straight and 10 of 11.The Tigers scored three runs in the first inning, then made a few marvelous plays in the field to prevent a Kansas City comeback. Inge, the third baseman, caught that foul popup to end the second. Wells and Jackson made their big catches in the fourth -- with a man on base.Jackson's catch came on a drive by Eric Hosmer."I threw a changeup right down the middle," Penny said. "The guy crushed it, but Austin's great out there."Detroit second baseman Scott Sizemore made a diving stop to his left on a groundball in the seventh.Penny (4-3) threw 110 pitches before giving way to Jose Valverde, who struck out two in a hitless ninth, earning his 10th save. Penny has pitched at least six innings without allowing an earned run in three of his last five starts."He commanded the ball and threw strikes, he threw curves for strikes, he moved the ball in and out," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "He didn't make three mistakes we could crush, and their defense played great."Despite shutting down the Tigers after the first, Kansas City's Jeff Francis (0-5) remains without a win since July 30. He's allowed three or fewer earned runs six times this season."It wasn't like we knocked the ball around," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "Sometimes you win with the longball and the gapper, and sometimes you win other ways. The old saying, pitching and defense, it keeps you in almost every game, and it wins you a few games, obviously, as well."Francis pitched all eight innings for Kansas City, allowing seven hits and a walk. He struck out four."Just didn't come out of the chute with the best stuff," Francis said. "I guess I got a wake up call."The Tigers scored three runs in the first on five singles. The last three hits came from Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez and Jhonny Peralta, each driving in a run.Martinez extended his hitting streak to 13 games. Peralta added a sixth-inning double to reach 1,000 hits for his career.The home crowd gave Peralta a standing ovation after his milestone hit, which also gave the Tigers at least one extra-base hit in all 40 games this season. Peralta now has a 10-game hitting streak.The Tigers lost seven straight before this stretch of 10 wins in 11 games."I knew we were a lot better team than we were playing (like), and me personally, I pitched terribly the first few games," Penny said. "It's nice to get a winning streak going."
Martinez is hitting .468 during his hitting streak. Peralta is hitting .441 during his. ... Sizemore had two hits for Detroit. ... The complete game was the first for Francis since Aug. 29, 2007, when he was pitching for the Colorado Rockies at San Francisco.