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Late-game decisions cost Tigers in critical game against Royals

Rain delayed game for 1 hour and 48 minutes in 9th inning

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DETROIT – It was the most important game of the young season for the Tigers, with the first-place Royals in town for the last time in three months. Detroit came into the night trailing by 1/2 game in the AL Central and needing a win to slow down the red-hot Royals.

But after a rain delay that lasted nearly two hours, questionable managing and missed opportunities cost the Tigers in a 2-1 extra innings loss.

Coming off a trio of awful starts, in which he allowed 20 runs in 11 innings, Shane Greene gave the Tigers perhaps his best outing of the year.

Against a Royals offense that ranks second in MLB with 154 runs scored, Greene allowed just one run on four hits, striking out three and walking none. Back-to-back doubles in the 2nd inning brought home the Royals' only run, followed by a stretch of 15 straight batters retired by Greene.

The Tigers' only run against Chris Young came in the 3rd inning, courtesy of a KC throwing error. Anthony Gose bunted towards 2nd base for a hit, but Omar Infante tried to field and throw behind his back, launching it over Eric Hosmer's head at 1st base and awarding Gose an extra base.

On the next pitch, Ian Kinsler singled to center field, scoring Gose to tie the game at 1-1.

Young, who no-hit the Tigers in his five innings of work last week, allowed just one unearned run on three hits in six innings Sunday.

Ryan Madson and Wade Davis threw scoreless innings of relief for KC in the 7th and 8th.

Joakim Soria pitched around a leadoff walk for a scoreless top of the 9th.

Rain arrived at Comerica Park before Miguel Cabrera could step into the box to lead off the bottom half of the 9th. The tarp came off the field at 12:18 a.m. Monday, after a delay of 1 hour and 48 minutes.

Finally, Cabrera led off the 9th with a walk. He was immediately lifted from the game for pinch runner Rajai Davis. Victor Martinez followed up with a single to left field, putting runners on 1st and 2nd with no outs.

But Yoenis Cespedes and J.D. Martinez couldn't get the job done, both popping out with Davis still at 2nd. After a Nick Castellanos walk, James McCann flew out to center field to end the threat.

Angel Nesbitt came in for the Tigers in the 10th. He hit Alex Gordon with his 1st pitch, threw a wild pitch on his 2nd, and allowed the eventual winning run to score on an Infante sac fly.

Closer Greg Holland came into the game and tried to give it back to the Tigers. He allowed a leadoff single to Andrew Romine before walking Anthony Gose and Kinser, who were both trying to bunt.

But since Cabrera was removed for a pinch runner in the 9th, it was Hernan Perez who came up with the bases loaded and no outs. Perez gave the Royals just what they needed, grounding into a 5-2-3 double play.

Victor Martinez walked to reload the bases, but Cespedes struck out to end the game.

For a team that won the AL Central by just one game in each of the last two seasons, giving one away to the division leader will loom large in September.

The Tigers fell a season-high 1.5 games behind the Royals in the division. Kansas City took a 4-3 lead in the season series, and the two teams won't meet again until Aug. 4.

Detroit is off on Monday, with the Twins visiting Comerica Park Tuesday.