KANSAS CITY — Magglio Ordonez is much more interested in the American League standings than the batting race.
Ordonez homered and got three hits Thursday, raising his major league-leading average to .359 and helping the Detroit Tigers beat the Kansas City Royals 6-1, avoiding a three-game sweep.
“I don’t check the batting race. I’m just going to go up there and do my job,” said Ordonez, who is looking for his first batting title. “I’m just going to play baseball, and we’ll see after the season.”
Jeremy Bonderman (11-7) pitched seven innings, snapping his six-game losing streak. Curtis Granderson joined Ordonez with three hits and a home run.
“It’s about time to do everything, hitting and pitching,” said Ordonez, who had three RBIs. “We haven’t done that in a while. It was good for our team.”
The Tigers began the day 4 1/2 games behind first-place Cleveland in the AL Central and three back in the wild-card chase.
“I think we have a great chance to make the playoffs,” Detroit manager Jim Leyland said. “I think we’ve got a shot. Why not? There are a lot of games to be played yet. What it boils down to is what I’ve been talking about all year long. You can’t just say you’ve got a shot. You’ve got to go out there and do something about it. But I like our team.”
Bonderman gave up six hits and one run, his best outing since beating Seattle on July 13 for his previous win. He struck out three and did not walk a batter.
“His ball was moving better. He really looked good,” Leyland said. “Took the game in hand. I thought he really pitched well.”
Granderson and Ordonez each homered in a four-run fifth against starter Leo Nunez (2-2), who went 6 1/3 innings. He was charged with six runs and 12 hits with no walks and six strikeouts. He lost for the first time in six career decisions at home.
Nunez struck out four straight batters before Granderson homered on a 3-1 fastball with one out in the fifth. Placido Polanco doubled and scored on Timo Perez’s third double in two games before Ordonez drove a 1-1 pitch 421 feet over the fence in left for his 26th home run.
“I think he fell in love with his changeup there. He gave us some good innings and we needed some innings today,” Royals manager Buddy Bell said.
Granderson had a sacrifice fly in the second inning and singled in the seventh, when he scored on a single by Ordonez that raised the slugger’s RBI total to 119. The right fielder has 10 home runs and 31 RBIs in 28 games in August.
He said he can’t remember a better month.
“I’d have to see the records,” Ordonez said. “But I’m playing good, feeling good.”
With runners at first and second in the seventh, Kansas City rookie Billy Buckner came in and struck out Carlos Guillen and Mike Rabelo to end the inning.
Billy Butler tripled in the fourth for the Royals and scored on Alex Gordon’s single. Butler also doubled in the sixth.
The Tigers loaded the bases in the second with three singles and took a 1-0 lead on Granderson’s sacrifice fly.
Royals shortstop Tony Pena Jr. made a heads-up double play in the eighth when he caught Ramon Santiago’s line drive and whipped a throw to first to double off Cameron Maybin.