DETROIT – Max Scherzer figured he had squandered another lead when Alex Gordon’s fifth-inning drive sailed down the line in right field.
“When that came off the bat, I was sure that thing was gone, and I was stunned when I turned around and realized it had gone foul,” Scherzer said.
After that reprieve, Scherzer walked Gordon and retired the next two batters to escape a bases-loaded jam, and the Detroit Tigers went on to beat Kansas City 4-2 on Tuesday night to pull within percentage points of the Royals atop the AL Central.
Rajai Davis and J.D. Martinez homered for the Tigers, who can sweep the three-game series with a win Wednesday night.
Scherzer (16-5) allowed a run and seven hits in 6 2-3 innings. Kansas City was down 3-1 in the fifth when Gordon’s deep fly to right went just foul with two on. Gordon walked to load the bases with one out, but Salvador Perez lined out and Eric Hosmer struck out.
Joe Nathan worked out of another jam in the ninth to earn his 30th save in 36 chances. He allowed two infield singles to start the inning before closing out the game with two strikeouts sandwiched around a picked-off runner.
Norichika Aoki was 2-for-4 for Kansas City.
Twins 4, Indians 3
In Cleveland, Oswaldo Arcia’s two-run homer capped Minnesota’s four-run fourth inning against Trevor Bauer.
Rays 4, Yankees 3
In New York, left fielder Matt Joyce threw out Stephen Drew in the fifth inning when catcher Ryan Hanigan blocked the sliding runner, and Tampa Bay held on to beat the fading Yankees.
Hiroki Kuroda was charged with the loss after allowing four runs in 3⅓ innings. Outfielder Ichiro Suzuki was 2-for-3 at the plate for New York.
Angels 9, Rangers 3
In Arlington, Texas, Kole Calhoun hit a leadoff homer, Collin Cowgill had a big eighth inning and Los Angeles stretched its winning streak to six.
Orioles 4, Red Sox 1
In Boston, Alejandro De Aza hit two homers, Adam Jones added another and Baltimore beat the Red Sox to win for the 10th time in 13 games.
Athletics 11, White Sox 2
In Chicago, Josh Donaldson had a career-high five hits while driving in four runs.
Astros 2, Mariners 1
In Seattle, Jonathan Villar hit a tiebreaking single in the ninth inning to lift Collin McHugh and Houston over the Mariners.
Nationals 6, Braves 4
In Washington, Adam LaRoche had two hits and two RBIs, and the Nationals essentially put to rest any thought that there is still a serious race for the NL East title, by extending their division lead to nine games over Atlanta.
Reds 9, Cardinals 5
In Cincinnati, Devin Mesoraco homered and drove in three runs, and Mike Leake pitched into the seventh inning.
Phillies 4, Pirates 3
In Philadelphia, Maikel Franco hit a tiebreaking single in the seventh inning.
Mets 2, Rockies 0
In New York, Jacob deGrom burnished his rookie of the year credentials by pitching three-hit ball for eight dominant innings.
Padres 6, Dodgers 3
In Los Angeles, Andrew Cashner pitched seven strong innings to win for the first time since mid-April.
Giants 5, Diamondbacks 1
In San Francisco, Yusmeiro Petit pitched a four-hitter for his second career complete game, leading Giants past Arizona.
Marlins 6, Brewers 3
In Milwaukee, Casey McGehee and Marcell Ozuna hit back-to-back home runs with two outs in the ninth inning to break open a tie game.
Blue Jays 9, Cubs 2
In Toronto, Jose Bautista hit a go-ahead, three-run double in the seventh inning, and the Blue Jays rallied for the win.
Toronto’s Munenori Kawasaki entered the game as a pinch hitter in the seventh and finished 1-for-1 with two RBIs.