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Royals pound Sanchez, Tigers to regain lead in AL Central

Jeremy Guthrie pitches 7.1 innings for 1st quality start of season

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DETROIT – The Kansas City Royals jumped all over Anibal Sanchez Saturday to retake the AL Central lead and even this three-game series with the Detroit Tigers at a game apiece.

Despite Sanchez's stellar career numbers against KC, and Jeremy Guthrie's struggles against Detroit, the Tigers got blown out in Game 2 by a final score of 6-2.

Kansas City came into the game without a single home run against Sanchez, but Alcides Escobar changed that on the very first pitch of the game. He turned on a fastball and ripped it over the left field wall to give the Royals a quick 1-0 lead. For Sanchez, it was the sixth homer allowed this year, but the first since April 18.

Lorenzo Cain followed the blast with an infield single and scored on Eric Hosmer's double, putting the Royals up a pair before Jeremy Guthrie even left the dugout.

Kansas City continued to pile on in the 2nd. Jarrod Dyson ripped a double on the first pitch and scored on a one-out bloop single from Escobar. Two batters later, Hosmer drove Escobar home to make it 4-0.

Saturday marked the first time in Sanchez's career that he's allowed more than three runs against the Royals.

The Tigers got a run back in the bottom of the 2nd with a Nick Castellanos sacrifice fly, but Sanchez gave it right back on a bases loaded RBI groundout in the 3rd.

Sanchez's awful afternoon continued in the 4th, as he allowed a two-out double, an intentional walk and a single to make it 6-1.

He finally got his first 1-2-3 inning, and first strikeout, in the 5th.

But the Tigers' offense struggled against Guthrie, who got shelled by Detroit last weekend. The top four Tiger batters went a combined 0-8 through the first four innings, erasing a solid effort by the 5-9 hitters (4-7, 2B, BB, RBI, R in first four innings).

Sanchez's day ended after a 1-2-3 6th inning. He allowed six runs (five earned) on nine hits in six innings. In two starts pitching to catcher James McCann this season, Sanchez has allowed 14 earned runs on 18 hits in 9 1/3 innings (13.50 ERA).

In five starts with Alex Avila behind the plate, Sanchez has an ERA of 3.21. Avila was placed on the DL Saturday and will likely be out until the second half.

Detroit clawed a little closer in the 6th after Castellanos cashed in on a leadoff double from VMart with a two-out triple to right center.

But Jeremy Guthrie got out of the jam and slammed the door in the 7th to cruise to his first quality start of the season.

The Tigers walked off against KC's elite bullpen on Friday night, but hardly got a chance in Game 2. Guthrie left with one out in the 7th and Luke Hochevar got two outs in three pitches to finish the inning.

Closer Greg Holland polished things off with a scoreless bottom of the 9th.

In Martinez news, Victor picked up two hits from the left side of the plate Saturday, while J.D. broke an 0-25 stretch with a single in the bottom of the 2nd. The Tigers need both to be much better in the heart of the order to shake off their offensive inconsistency.

Blaine Hardy, Al Alburquerque and Joba Chamberlain each pitched scoreless innings in relief.

The Tigers will look to win the series in Sunday night's rubber match, with the struggling Shane Greene on the mound. Detroit is hoping to avoid its second straight series loss to a division rival.