DETROIT — Given some offense, Brian Bannister ended his brief losing streak.
Bannister allowed four hits in seven innings and Esteban German homered for the Kansas City Royals in 5-2 victory over the Detroit Tigers on Sunday.
Kansas City, tied with Chicago for last in the AL Central, went 5-4 on a trip against playoff contenders Boston, Cleveland and Detroit.
“This is just a huge mental lift for us,” Bannister said. “We won the series and we won the road trip against three great teams.”
Bannister (6-6) gave up one run on four hits in seven innings, struck out three and walked one. Gary Sheffield, Magglio Ordonez, Carlos Guillen and Sean Casey combined to go 0-for-12 against Bannister.
“Banny was as good as it gets out there,” Royals manager Buddy Bell said. “I thought he struggled early with his control, but he really settled down and the seventh inning was probably his best.”
In Bannister’s previous two starts, the Royals lost 4-0 to Seattle and Boston. He prepared for this start by reviewing his 6-3 defeat against the Tigers on May 4.
“I’ve watched a lot of video from that game, because I didn’t want to make the same mistakes,” he said. “Guillen had three hits against me, and I threw some pitches to Magglio and Casey that I didn’t throw today.”
Kansas City is 6-3 during its last three series in Detroit, starting with the season-ending sweep that cost the Tigers last year’s AL Central title.
“We’re getting better,” Bell said. “In this division, we’re going to have to get a lot better, but we’re heading in the right direction.”
The Tigers, who lead the AL Central, dropped two of three against the Royals, their first series defeat since losing two of three to Minnesota from June 29-July 1.
“I have no complaints,” manager Jim Leyland said. “We had a little shot in the ninth inning, but we couldn’t get it done.”
Ordonez hit an RBI double in the ninth off Octavio Dotel and Detroit had two on with no outs, but Dotel retired Casey on a flyout, then struck out Craig Monroe and pinch-hitter Ivan Rodriguez. Nate Robertson (6-7) allowed five runs — four earned — and 11 hits..
“Nate was too methodical,” Leyland said. “There wasn’t enough energy, and he wasn’t very good.”
Robertson, bothered by a tired arm last month, had gone 2-0 with a 3.04 ERA in four starts since returning from the disabled list on June 26.
“You go up there with a game plan, but you might outthink yourself too much,” Robertson said. “I threw pitches that I thought had the best chance of getting outs.”
Monroe’s second homer in as many games put Detroit ahead in the third, but sloppy defense helped Kansas City take the lead in the fourth.
Billy Butler, 7-for-14 with five RBIs in the series, tripled leading off and scored on Reggie Sanders’ single.
David DeJesus bunted down the third-base line, and Brandon Inge’s throw sailed down the right-field line. The playleft runners on second and third. Emil Brown lined out to left as Sanders held third, but Sanders took off for the plate on Tony Pena Jr.’s fly to medium-deep center.
Curtis Granderson appeared to have a good chance to get Sanders, but his throw was up the first-base line.
Brown hit a sacrifice fly in the sixth that made it 3-1 after Sanders walked and David DeJesus doubled.
German’s third homer — his first since May 5 — led off the seventh, and DeJesus hit a run-scoring single off Jose Capellan that boosted the lead to 5-1.