Valverde loses Verlander’s lead

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) – Justin Verlander did his part, shutting down the Kansas City Royals. Once he left, the Detroit Tigers ran into trouble.

Jose Valverde gave up a tying, two-run homer to Lorenzo Cain with two outs in the ninth inning, then Eric Hosmer hit a winning single in the 10th that lifted the Royals over Detroit 3-2 Wednesday.

“No closer wants a blown save,” Valverde said. “Nobody wants that. It’s part of the game. The closer wants to save the game, not lose the game.”

Verlander dominated for seven shutout innings, giving up just three singles and not permitting a runner past first save. He struck out eight and walking two in a 117-pitch outing, his second-highest total this season.

“You’ve got two outs and two strikes, and when the ball leaves the yard, it’s not a good feeling. It only tied the game, so we immediately need to change our mindset to, ‘OK, let’s win it.’ To lose it that way, it’s a tough pill to swallow.”

“Losing, period, stinks. When you lose one that’s so close to a win makes it that much more difficult,” he said.

Verlander has a 15-2 record with a 2.56 ERA in 25 starts against the Royals.

“Verlander showed why he’s the horse today,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. “He was terrific, absolutely terrific. He stepped up today. That’s the way he’s been the seven years I’ve been here.”

Tigers catcher Brayan Pena seconded Leyland’s appraisal of Verlander.

“Sometimes baseball is not fair,” Pena said. “A performance like that, for Verlander, that’s not fair. Verlander, he just keeps getting better and better and better. Today he was unbelievable. He was mixing it up, keeping it down in the strike zone. We just couldn’t get it done for him.”

Drew Smyly pitched a one-hit eighth, then allowed a leadoff single in the ninth to Hosmer and was replaced by Valverde.

Valverde retired Salvador Perez on a flyout and struck out Billy Butler as Hosmer stole second – becoming the first Kansas City runner in scoring position.

Cain fouled off three pitches, then sent an 85 mph offering over the wall in left-center. Valverde blew a save for the third time in 12 chances.

“He got two quick outs and then he hung a splitter,” Leyland said. “He left it out over the plate. It didn’t split and the kid hit it out. The key was the ninth inning. We got two quick outs and two strikes and the guy hit it out.”

The Tigers’ bullpen has a 4-12 record with eight blown saves.

Greg Holland (2-1) pitched a perfect 10th, striking out Torii Hunter and Miguel Cabrera and retiring Prince Fielder on a lineout.

Miguel Tejada singled off Phil Coke (0-4) leading off the bottom half.

Detroit built its lead on Fielder’s RBI single in the first and consecutive doubles by Matt Tuiasosopo and Pena in the fifth.