DETROIT — Shane Greene has been part of almost every victory this season for the Detroit Tigers.
The right-hander allowed a home run in the ninth inning against Kansas City on Friday night, but still closed out the win.
Greene finished Detroit’s 4-3 victory over the Royals for his American League-leading 13th save in 13 chances. The Tigers only have 14 wins, so Greene is clearly a big reason Detroit is just a game under .500 in what was supposed to be another rebuilding year.
“You lose your confidence, sooner or later you’re going to pay for it,” Greene said. “So you’ve got to walk around thinking you’re the best, knowing you’re the best and playing like you’re the best.”
Greene struck out two in the ninth, but he also allowed a solo homer to Jorge Soler and a two-out double to pinch-hitter Ryan O’Hearn. He finally retired Martin Maldonado on a popup to end it.
Matthew Boyd struck out nine in another solid outing, and the Tigers scored three runs in the first inning. It was the sixth straight quality start for Boyd, who allowed two runs and five hits in seven innings. He walked one.
“His pitch count got up early, and then he had a couple good innings to get back in it,” manager Ron Gardenhire said. “We needed him out there.”
Joe Jimenez struck out two in a perfect eighth for Detroit.
Jorge Lopez (0-3) settled down nicely after a tough start. He allowed four runs and five hits in seven innings.
“He made a little adjustment after the first inning and he just got a lot sharper,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “He left some sliders up in the first and they hit them, but he didn’t let them do that the rest of the way.”
Miguel Cabrera hit an RBI single in the first, giving the Tigers a 1-0 lead before Lopez had gotten an out. Another run came home when Ronny Rodriguez grounded into a force play, and Rodriguez scored on a wild pitch, sliding in safely on a close play at the plate.
Rodriguez added an RBI double in the third, and Boyd kept the Royals off the scoreboard until the fourth, when Soler hit a sacrifice fly and Kelvin Gutierrez followed with a run-scoring triple.
Boyd (3-2) worked out of that jam with back-to-back strikeouts, and the Tigers held on from there to improve to 4-0 on the season against Kansas City.
Cabrera had three singles for Detroit.
Rodriguez came home on the wild pitch in the first to make it 3-0. The play was reviewed, and the safe call was upheld.
“I really felt I had him,” said Lopez, who was covering home on the play. “I put my left foot in front of the plate, and he hit my foot just as I tagged him, so I thought he was out.”
It was a close play because the ball hadn’t gotten that far from the catcher.
“That’s a tough ball to read,” Boyd said. “If you have any hesitation, you can’t do it. … That ended up being the difference in the game, right? Every run counted.”
Tigers: Detroit is without 2B Josh Harrison, who is on the injured list with a left shoulder issue. Gordon Beckham started at that position and had two hits.
Royals: Kansas City sends RHP Homer Bailey (2-3) to the mound Saturday against the Tigers. Bailey turned 33 on Friday.
Tigers: Detroit RHP Tyson Ross (1-3) was activated from the paternity list Friday and will start Saturday’s game.