Eric Hosmer stroked a solo homer and the Kansas City Royals received six excellent innings out of spot starter Danny Duffy to post a 2-1 win in Friday's opener of a doubleheader with the AL Central- leading Detroit Tigers.
Emilio Bonifacio, acquired by the Royals two days ago, added an RBI double and also swiped a base to help the team end a brief three-game slide, their only funk so far of the season's second half.
Justin Verlander (12-9) surrendered both runs over eight solid innings to take the hard-luck loss despite pitching to his normal standards against Kansas City, however he was outdueled by Duffy.
Added as the 26th man for the scheduled twinbill, Duffy (1-0) yielded just one hit -- to reigning Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera -- in his last inning of work. Greg Holland secured the win and his 33rd save by inducing Victor Martinez into a game-ending double play.
"That's exactly what we needed matching up against Verlander," Royals manager Ned Yost said of Duffy. "I had a feeling Danny was going to throw the ball really, really well today. It came true. He commanded his pitching. He commanded his composure and did a nice job in making pitches."
The Royals, who have gone 20-8 since the All-Star break to pull within 7 1/2 games of the Tigers, have the opportunity to make up even more ground later in Friday's nightcap, the third tilt of this five-game set.
Verlander entered the day 15-3 with a 2.74 ERA over 26 games against the Royals and was mostly effective, striking out six while scattering seven hits. However, three of those hits wound up costing him.
Hosmer tattooed a breaking ball from Verlander to start the fourth, with the shot carrying over the left field wall for his 13th home run of the season and staking the Royals to a 1-0 lead.
Duffy had walked three, but held the Tigers' potent offense hitless through the first five innings. Cabrera broke up the no-hit bid with two away in the sixth, however, ripping a sharp liner off the glove of Bonifacio at third.
"He's special when he throws it over the plate. He's got an electric fastball that can hit 97 (mph)," said Tigers manager Jim Leyland. "He was terrific."
Justin Maxwell and Bonifacio both doubled to start the seventh, with the latter driving a pitch from Verlander into the right field corner to make it 2-0.
Verlander was able to strand runners at the corners in the eighth and Ramon Santiago cracked his first career pinch-hit home run in the bottom of the frame. However, the solo blast was all the offense the Tigers accounted for on the afternoon.