DETROIT -- Catcher Salvador Perez launched a two-run homer off Justin Verlander and drove in three, leading the Royals to a 5-1 victory over the Tigers on Tuesday night at Comerica Park.
Kansas City tagged Verlander for five runs on 10 hits, highlighted by Perez's blast in the fourth inning on an elevated fastball. The Royals added insurance runs in the fifth and sixth, the latter of which came when Alex Rios' shallow fly ball dropped into left-center for a double.
"Not as sharp as the last couple," Verlander said of his outing, "but also not as bad as it looked."
The five-run cushion was plenty for Royals starter Danny Duffy, who allowed only one run on five hits over seven innings. The lefty escaped a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the fifth and stranded a leadoff triple in the seventh to complete his fifth quality outing over his last six appearances.
"The first five innings, I thought he had all three pitches working and commanded them all greatly," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "I thought it was the best slider he's had probably all year long."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Im-Perez-ive night: In the second inning, Perez opened scoring by driving a fastball into center field, plating Eric Hosmer. He added to his account two frames later with the home run, which left his bat at 98 mph and traveled 382 feet from home plate, according to Statcast™. The catcher is hitting .474 lifetime against Verlander, and Tuesday marked Perez's second three-RBI performance of the season. More >
"It just seems like Sal always sees the ball pretty good off of Verlander," Yost said.
Escaping a jam: Duffy worked himself into trouble in the fifth inning after issuing two walks and a single to load the bases with only one out, but the lefty remained cool under pressure. He induced a weak ground ball off the bat of Anthony Gose, and shortstop Alcides Escobar fired to Perez for the forceout at home. Then, Duffy got Rajai Davis to pop out on a high fastball to preserve what was a 4-0 Royals lead. More >
"You can't trust your defense if you don't trust your stuff," Yost said. "If you trust your stuff and trust your defense, those are ingredients for success."
Verlander takes step back: After back-to-back strong outings against Boston and Tampa Bay raised hopes of a late-season rebound, Verlander struggled on Tuesday. Like his rough outings a few weeks ago, he paid for a fastball, a 94-mph heater that Perez hit for a two-run homer. All three of Perez's hits against Verlander came off fastballs.
"Perez was charging first-pitch fastball," Verlander said, "and I just didn't execute it. That's a big turning point in the game there, going from one run to three. Especially with this ballclub, you don't want to hand them the lead early."
Missed opportunities: Though Victor Martinez's sixth-inning single put the Tigers on the scoreboard, they had better chances thwarted in the fifth and seventh, but allowed Duffy to escape. Two walks and a single loaded the bases in the fifth, but Anthony Gose's ground ball set up a forceout at the plate before Rajai Davis popped out. Nick Castellanos led off the seventh with a triple, but hesitated before breaking for home on a Gose double-play ball three pitches later.
"Just because it was such a hard-hit ball, my first reaction was that if he wanted to go to the plate, I was kind of a sitting duck anyway," Castellanos said. "Then I saw that he was turning two, then I decided to go. I should've just taken off as soon as he hit it. If he went home, at least there wasn't a double play."
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Perez entered the series opener hitting .095 (2-for-21) over the first seven games of the Royals' road trip.
Though Verlander couldn't follow up his stinginess from his previous two starts, he posted his third straight outing without a walk. His 23-inning walkless stretch is the longest of his career.
WHAT'S NEXT Royals:Johnny Cueto will make his second start in a Kansas City uniform on Wednesday at 6:08 p.m. CT in the middle game of the series. The right-hander has held opponents to a .184 batting average in night games this season.
Tigers: Left-hander Matt Boyd, who was acquired in the David Price deal with the Blue Jays, will make his Detroit debut on Wednesday at 7:08 p.m. ET. The club's No. 8 prospect has tallied a 1.65 ERA with 108 strikeouts in 19 Minor League starts this season. Detroit optioned reliever Jose Valdez to make room for Boyd, and righty Buck Farmer will move to the bullpen.
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and listen to his podcast. Alejandro Zúñiga is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.