KANSAS CITY -- The Royals grinded out a much-needed win behind a little power and a little speed.
Eric Hosmer's two-run homer in the fourth inning put Kansas City up, and back-to-back bunt singles helped add another key run in the fifth, as the Royals snapped a three-game losing streak and beat the Tigers, 5-2, at Kauffman Stadium on Saturday night. Closer Wade Davis notched his 22nd save.
The Tigers' four-game winning streak ended and they fell one game behind the Orioles for the second Wild Card spot in the American League. The Royals stayed four games behind the Orioles.
Royals right-hander Yordano Ventura gave up six hits and walked six but navigated through traffic all night, allowing one run. He struck out two.
"He was really smart tonight," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "Some of those balls weren't because he was fighting command. He just wasn't going to let the middle of the order beat him. He picked his spots.
"He commanded the ball extremely well. The numbers don't show it. But he was pitching around some guys."
Added Hosmer: "Really, that's one of the most intelligent games I've seen him pitch. He wasn't going to let their big bats beat him."
Tigers rookie Michael Fulmer was solid, giving up three runs and seven hits over six innings. He walked one and struck out four.
"I got a lot of ground balls tonight," Fulmer said. "That's kind of the old me. That's what I want. Just a few of them squeaked through."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED A career high for Hoz: Hosmer jumped on a 2-2 fastball from Fulmer in the fourth and drove it into the right-field stands. Cheslor Cuthbert had led off the inning with a double. The home run gave Hosmer 20 for the season, a career high. He hit 19 in his rookie season in 2011.
"That's what we all strive for -- to get better and better each year," Hosmer said. "I just think it came at a good time, especially today the way Fulmer was pitching. It ended up getting us a victory. Hopefully a lot more to come, with a lot more victories."
Iglesias out to center: With Cameron Maybin still out and Tyler Collins starting in center field, shortstop Jose Iglesias picked up some of his defensive territory, racing into center for an over-the-shoulder catch on Salvador Perez's second-inning fly ball. The catch drew applause from even Royals fans.
Little bitty tiny ball: The Royals manufactured a run in the fifth with two outs. Raul Mondesi put down a perfect drag bunt between the pitcher's mound and first base. Jarrod Dyson then dropped a perfect bunt down the third-base line. With blazing speed on the bases, Cuthbert singled up the middle, scoring Mondesi easily to give the Royals a 3-1 lead.
"Back-to-back two-out bunt singles, nothing you can do about that," Fulmer said. "If that's the way they want to get on base, that's fine. They're a fast, good-running team. They're going to try to produce any way they can."
Tigers can't convert walks to runs: None of Ventura's six walks came around to score, including two pairs of back-to-back passes -- both to Victor Martinez and J.D. Martinez. Justin Upton followed both back-to-back walks by grounding out on Ventura's next pitch, including stranding the bases loaded in the fifth. More >
"We had opportunities tonight," second baseman Ian Kinsler said. "We just couldn't get a big hit when we needed it, and that's really what it came down to. We had opportunities. We got on base plenty against him. We couldn't get a hit to drive in some runs tonight."
"Speed never has a day off. It's something that applies pressure constantly. It's tough when you have three guys in a row that can run. It's a nice luxury for them." -- Kinsler, on the Royals' speed
UPON FURTHER REVIEW
The Tigers challenged a play at the plate on Alcides Escobar's two-run single in the eighth inning, arguing that catcher James McCann tagged Perez before he reached home plate. After review, it was ruled that the call stands, maintaining a big Royals insurance run.
WHAT'S NEXT Tigers:Daniel Norris (2-2, 3.86 ERA) takes the mound for Sunday's series finale hoping to avenge an Aug. 15 loss to the Royals in which he gave up six hits and four walks over 5 1/3 innings with a lone earned run allowed. First pitch is 2:15 p.m. ET.
Royals: Right-hander Edinson Volquez (10-10, 5.01 ERA) gets the start for the Royals, as he will flip spots with Dillon Gee, who will start Tuesday in Minnesota. Volquez gave up nine hits and four runs in 3 1/3 innings last Tuesday in a loss to the Yankees. First pitch is 1:15 p.m. CT.