KANSAS CITY — Jeremy Guthrie became the latest Kansas City pitcher to give the Tigers fits.
Guthrie pitched effectively into the eighth inning and Alex Gordon hit a home run to lead the Royals over Detroit 2-1 on Thursday night for a three-game sweep.
Kansas City roughed up Justin Verlander in the opener and won all three games by one run.
"Close ballgames, high intensity in the ninth inning, so it was a good team win — all three of them," Gordon said.
Prince Fielder had three hits for the slumping Tigers, who remained three games behind the first-place Chicago White Sox in the AL Central. The teams begin an important three-game series Friday night in Detroit.
Royals rookie Kelvin Herrera worked around a walk and a single in the ninth to earn his first career save, coaxing slugger Miguel Cabrera to ground into a game-ending double play.
"We scattered a lot of hits," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "We couldn't get the big hit. We got hits to lead off innings and couldn't do anything with them. We got two-out hits and that ended it. We certainly had enough hits and we had a chance there at the end."
Guthrie's big effort came one night after teammate Bruce Chen beat the Tigers 1-0.
"Guthrie and Chen did a great job the past two nights, especially against this offense. It's pretty tough to do, to shut them down to one run in 18 innings," Gordon said. "Our bullpen came in and did the job again. The home run was a key at-bat and gave us the win."
Guthrie (3-3), who did not give up a hit to the White Sox until the eighth inning on Aug. 19 in his previous Kauffman Stadium start, held Detroit to one run on 10 hits — nine of them singles. He walked none and struck out three.
"The biggest thing was I was able to keep nine of them to singles and just allow the one extra-base hit. That was kind of the big key in allowing the hits, but not the runs," Guthrie said.
Guthrie has made eight starts for the Royals since they acquired him in a July 20 trade with Colorado for left-hander Jonathan Sanchez. He is 6-12 overall.
"Spectacular pitching again by Jeremy Guthrie," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "Great defense, a huge double play to end the ballgame. We had a couple of opportunities to add on, but two runs was enough."
Gordon hit his 10th homer leading off the sixth and extended his hitting streak to eight games.
The Royals loaded the bases with none out in the fifth, but converted that into just one run. Mike Moustakas doubled to start the inning and Jeff Francoeur singled on the 10th pitch to snap an 0-for-19 streak. After Eric Hosmer walked to load the bases, Johnny Giavotella's groundout to shortstop Jhonny Peralta scored Moustakas.
Rick Porcello (9-10) lost his fourth straight start, giving up two runs and eight hits in five-plus innings. He struck out four and walked two.
The Tigers snapped a 17-inning scoreless drought with a run in the eighth when one-out singles by Fielder and Delmon Young chased Guthrie. After reliever Tim Collins struck out pinch-hitter Jeff Baker on three pitches, Peralta delivered a run-scoring single.
"My best? No, but I was able to throw strikes and work ahead in the count," Guthrie said. "I was able to make good pitches after I made some mistakes to get baserunners."
Detroit went 1 for 11 with runners in scoring position and stranded 11.
"We didn't have a lot of runners in scoring position. We just haven't been able to hit a double with guys on. We can't get that gapper," Leyland said.