Royals nail down eighth straight win
Infante became expendable in Detroit last November when the franchise traded first baseman Prince Fielder to Texas for second baseman Ian Kinsler. The next month, Infante signed a $30.25 million, 4-year contract with the Royals, and their manager is glad he did.
"I didn't really think much about Omar last year with the lineup that they had," Royals skipper Ned Yost acknowledged. "I would try to pitch around this guy and pitch around this guy to get to Omar, and Omar constantly just beat our brains in offensively. At about the midway point, I started realizing how really good he was."
With 90-plus games left this season, the Tigers are finding out how vulnerable they are and how good Kansas City is in the tightly contested AL Central.
"We got on a nice little run here and we've made up some ground," Yost said.
Detroit scored six runs in the ninth inning and pulled within three on J.D. Martinez's two-out grand slam off Donnie Joseph. Michael Mariot struck out Austin Jackson looking for the final out.
Jason Vargas (7-2) gave up two runs on seven hits and two walks to win his third straight.
Verlander (6-7) allowed seven earned runs in consecutive starts for the first time in his career, giving up a season-high 12 hits and striking out two over six innings. He got off to a good start, retiring the Royals in order on 10 pitches in the first inning, and pitched four scoreless innings before getting roughed up.
The Royals took a 4-2 lead in the fifth inning when Billy Butler followed Infante's RBI single with a three-run double off Verlander.
"Our confidence level is as high as it can get," Butler said. "I don't think it is as much him as it is we're going really good right now."
Infante cleared the leftfield fences with his third homer this year with two on to make it 7-2 in the sixth, leading fans to boo Verlander, who is in the second season of his 7-year, $180 million deal.
"I don't blame the fans for booing," Verlander said. "They are frustrated with me, just like I'm frustrated with myself. I would have probably booed myself tonight. They've cheered me a lot of times, and they will cheer me again."
Both teams lost a player to cramps.
Tigers outfielder Torii Hunter left the game in the fourth with a cramp in his right hamstring. Royals catcher Salvador Perez was replaced in the seventh because of cramps in both calves.
In AL games* At Cleveland, Carlos Santana and Asdrubal Cabrera homered, and the Indians ended Jered Weaver's unbeaten streak at Progressive Field with a 4-3 victory over the Los Angeles Angels. Both home runs came off Jered Weaver (7-6), who lost for the first time in 10 career starts at the Indians' ballpark.
* At St. Petersburg, Jerry Sands, Yunel Escobar and Ryan Hanigan homered, helping the Tampa Bay Rays beat the Baltimore Orioles, 5-4.
* At Boston, Rubby De La Rosa (2-2) matched his first career Fenway Park start with another seven impressive innings and A.J. Pierzynski had a sacrifice fly, lifting the Red Sox to a 1-0 win over the Minnesota Twins.
In Red Sox news, minor league pitcher Miguel Pena, 23, was suspended for 100 games for a third positive test for a drug of abuse.
In NL games* At Miami, Travis Wood hit a pinch-hit double in the 13th inning to drive in the winning run for the Chicago Cubs over the Marlins, 5-4.
In Marlins news, lefthander Andrew Heaney and righthander Anthony DeSclafani were called up from Triple A and were plugged into the rotation for this week. It was part of a busy day for the Marlins in which they made roster moves regarding a total of eight players, including leftfielder Christian Yelich, who was placed on the disabled list.
* At St. Louis, Allen Craig and Matt Adams each had two RBI and the Cardinals got effective work from rookie pitchers subbing for ace Adam Wainwright in a 6-2 victory over the New York Mets.