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Verlander struggles again as Tigers lose to Royals 5-1

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DETROIT — On a night when the Detroit Tigers turned their organization upside down, one thing remained obvious.

Any plan they have to contend in the future depends on Justin Verlander returning to form. Right now, he's not there.

Verlander (1-4) struggled in his ninth start of the season, allowing five runs on 10 hits in seven innings as the Tigers lost 5-1 to the Kansas City Royals Tuesday night.

He didn't walk a batter for a career-best third straight start, but the Tigers are now 1-8 in his outings this year.

"I think he's going to have to eliminate a lot of walks, because he can't reach back and throw 98-100 anymore," said Tigers manager Brad Ausmus. "That's when location becomes much more important."

It didn't help Verlander that he had to face one of his toughest opponents, Royals catcher Salvador Perez.

Perez had three hits off Verlander, including a homer, and drove in three runs. Perez is now hitting .474 (18-38) in his career against the long-time Tiger ace.

"He's a great pitcher, and I don't know any secret," Perez said. "I'm just up there trying to do my job and he's trying to do his job. Today he left a couple fastballs up, and I was able to hit them."

The game was overshadowed by an afternoon announcement that Dave Dombrowski was being replaced as Detroit's general manager by his top assistant, Al Avila. In 14 years with the Tigers, Dombrowski took one of the worst franchises in the game and took it to six postseason appearances including World Series losses in 2006 and 2012.

"It was definitely a strange day," said Detroit catcher Alex Avila, who is now the son of his team's general manager. "I can't help but feel bad for Dave, after everything he's done for me and my family, but I'm also very proud of my dad."

Detroit came into the season looking for a fifth straight AL Central title, but now trail the Royals by 12 1/2 games.

Danny Duffy (5-5) allowed one run on five hits and four walks in seven innings, only striking out two.

"Danny was outstanding tonight," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "He had all three of his pitches working, and his slider was probably the best he's had all season."

PHOTO: Kansas City Royals' Salvador Perez (13) is congratulated by teammates after he and Eric Hosmer scored on Perez's two-run home run off Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Justin Verlander during the fourth inning of a baseball game, Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2015, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
Kansas City Royals' Salvador Perez (13) is congratulated by teammates after he and Eric Hosmer scored on Perez's two-run home run off Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Justin Verlander during the fourth inning of a baseball game, Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2015, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

After Perez drove in Kansas City's first three runs, former Tiger Omar Infante doubled to lead off the fifth, took third on Alcides Escobar's sacrifice fly and scored on Ben Zobrist's sacrifice fly to deep right.

Detroit loaded the bases with one out in their half of the fifth, but Anthony Gose grounded into a force at the plate and Rajai Davis popped out.

"That was huge," Yost said. "With that offense, you don't want to give them anything that lets them get back into the game."

Alex Rios increased the Royals lead to 5-0 with a bloop double in the sixth, scoring Kendrys Morales, but the Tigers got a run back in the bottom of the inning on Victor Martinez's RBI single.

Detroit threatened again in the seventh, as Nick Castellanos led off with a triple and Jefry Marte followed with a walk. Gose grounded to third baseman Mike Moustakas, who looked Castellanos back to the base before throwing to second for the force.

Castellanos then broke for the plate, and Omar Infante threw home to easily retire him and end the threat.

"My initial reaction was that if he wanted to go to the plate I was a sitting duck," Castellanos said. "Then when I saw that he was turning two, then I decided to go. I should have just taken off as soon as he hit it."

TRAINER'S ROOM

Royals: Duffy continued to pitch very well since returning from the disabled list with biceps tendinits. Duffy is 3-2 with a 2.66 ERA in eight starts since returning from the injury in late June.

Tigers: LHP Kyle Lobstein (shoulder) threw on the side with Triple-A Toledo. Lobstein, who has been out since May 24, is expected to begin a rehab stint with the Mud Hens this week. ... Ausmus did not have any update on Miguel Cabrera (calf), who has begun agility drills in advance of an expected return later this month.

UP NEXT

The teams play the second of their three-game series Wednesday afternoon, with both teams pitching deadline acquisitions. Johnny Cueto (7-6, 2.70) makes his second start for the Royals, while Matt Boyd (0-2, 14.85) will make his Tigers debut after being acquired for David Price. In Boyd's last major-league start — the second of his career — he faced seven Red Sox without retiring a batter.

RARE LOSS

Verlander came into the game with a 31-1 record in 37 career starts where he didn't walk a batter. His only previous loss came to the White Sox on August 11, 2006.

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