Ervin Santana won a pitcher’s duel with Anibal Sanchez by tossing 7 1/3 scoreless innings, and the Kansas City Royals halted a five-game losing streak with a 1-0 decision over the Detroit Tigers in the first outing for both teams since the All-Star break.
Santana (6-6) made Billy Butler’s RBI single in the opening inning stand up by limiting Detroit’s potent lineup to a pair of singles and a walk while striking out six. Kelvin Herrera and Greg Holland finished off the two-hit shutout, with the latter firing a 1-2-3 ninth to notch his 23rd save of the season.
Sanchez (7-7) worked around a season-high five walks to allow just the one run on four hits in his six-inning stint, but was victimized by a lack of offensive support from the AL Central leaders.
“It was a very good game,” said Tigers manager Jim Leyland. “We just couldn’t get some of the balls to fall in. They earned it. They pitched good and they shut us out.”
Butler was the only player from both sides to collect multiple hits, finishing 2-for-4 in the triumph.
The Royals were able to get to Sanchez early, with Alex Gordon opening up the bottom of the first with a single and later stealing second before Butler shot a grounder up the middle to stake Kansas City to an early edge.
“With Anibal, it’s good to get a run off of him right away,” said Gordon. “We hit the ball well against him … even though we scored only one run and left a lot of guys on. Even though it doesn’t look good, I think it was a good day for our offense.”
Santana made it hold up with a dominating performance in which the right- hander set down the first 10 Detroit hitters and cruised into the eighth inning having retired 20 of the 22 men he faced. He was aided by a pair of outstanding catches from center fielder Lorenzo Cain, one on a drive to the wall by Torii Hunter in the top of the first and another on Victor Martinez’s deep blast in the fifth.
Kansas City had an opportunity to extend the margin after loading the bases with two out in the bottom of the sixth on a Butler single and a pair of walks. Sanchez got out of the jam, however, by fanning Alcides Escobar swinging on his final pitch of the night.
Santana was lifted after walking Jhonny Peralta with one down in the top of the eighth, with Herrera preserving the shutout bid by recording two quick outs.
Holland, fresh off his first career All-Star nod, then mowed down the side in order in the ninth to put Kansas City’s skid to an end.