Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Anibal Sanchez throws during the first inning of a baseball game against the Kansas City Royals on Friday, July 11, 2014, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel) AP
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Anibal Sanchez tossed seven stingy innings, Ian Kinsler and Miguel Cabrera drove in runs and the Detroit Tigers squeaked out a 2-1 victory over the Kansas City Royals on Friday night.
Sanchez (6-3) scattered eight hits without a walk to help the AL Central-leading Tigers take their second straight from Kansas City. The second-place Royals dropped 6 1-2 games back in the division with two games left before the All-Star break.
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Salvador Perez drove in the only run for the Royals, who squandered a solid start by Danny Duffy (5-9). He gave up both runs, only one earned, while losing for the fourth time in five starts.
Joe Nathan worked around a single and a walk in the ninth inning to earn his 19th save, and gave Detroit its fifth straight win over the Royals at Kauffman Stadium this season.
Nathan got Nori Aoki to ground out on a full-count pitch to end the game.
The Royals appeared to be 90 feet from tying it with no outs in the eighth, when Aoki swiped second base and went to third when the throw from catcher Bryan Holaday squirted into center field.
While that was going on, though, plate umpire Chad Fairchild was calling batter interference on Lorenzo Cain for stepping into the way of the throw to second. Cain was out and Aoki was forced to make the long, slow trot back to first base. He wound up getting stranded by Joba Chamberlain.
After the Tigers opened the series with a 16-4 blowout Thursday night, Sanchez and Duffy waged an entertaining pitchers' duel. And just like when they met in June, Sanchez was one run better.
Duffy surrendered a leadoff double to Austin Jackson and an RBI single to Kinsler in the first inning, and then gave up another run in the third when Cabrera hit a lazy sacrifice fly.
Duffy wound up allowing five hits while striking out six without a walk. He departed after hitting the Tigers' Nick Castellanos leading off the seventh inning, but Kelvin Herrera — who hit the first batter he faced — managed to wiggle out of the jam without any more damage.
Meanwhile, Sanchez was churning through the Royals lineup.
They scored their only run in the first inning when Eric Hosmer stretched a single into a double and Perez followed with a base hit. Sanchez struck out Billy Butler to end the inning, and then kept Kansas City at bay over the next six — though none of them was clean.
Sanchez worked around a single in the second, a double in the third, a leadoff single in the fourth, and singles in the fifth and sixth innings without another run.
His tensest moment came in the seventh, when Mike Moustakas doubled off the wall in center field, missing a tying homer by a couple of feet. The Royals got Moustakas to third with a groundout, but Sanchez induced two more groundouts — one a magnificent spinning stab by shortstop Eugenio Suarez — to quietly end the threat.
NOTES: Tigers DH Victor Martinez (strained left side) missed his fifth straight game. Kinsler replaced him on the AL All-Star roster Friday. ... The Royals activated Aoki (strained left groin) from the DL and optioned INF Christian Colon to Triple-A Omaha before the game. ... Tigers RHP Rick Porcello faces Royals RHP James Shields on Saturday.