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Johnny Cueto struggles again as Justin Verlander shines; Royals fall to Tigers 6-5

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KANSAS CITY, Missouri — When the Kansas City Royals acquired Johnny Cueto in a July 26 trade with Cincinnati, they thought they were getting a staff ace.

Cueto has looked like anything but in his recent starts.

The right-hander yielded six hits and three runs in the first two innings as the Royals lost 6-5 to the last-place Detroit Tigers on Tuesday night.

Cueto, who shut out Detroit on Aug. 10, has given up 38 hits in his past four starts, the most hits he has allowed in his career over a four-start span. He has allowed 17 runs in 17 innings in losing his past three starts.

"This is obviously part of the game," Cueto said with coach Pedro Grifol interpreting. "Every player has a streak like this. I'm not concerned because I'm well aware that this is going to turn around and I'm going to help this team."

Miguel Cabrera, who hit .393 in August, singled home Anthony Gose in the first inning.

"He just wasn't real sharp the first three innings," Royals manager Ned Yost said of Cueto.

Cueto did retire the final seven batters he faced.

"Without a doubt I'm not happy with his performance in today's game," Cueto said. "But if you take a positive out of today's game, I'm happy with the way I finished and I'm going to take it on to my side work and know it's not going to last long.

"It's just a bad streak, because I feel good. My command has been off and on. It's just a bad streak that I'm going to get out of."

The Royals welcomed Alex Gordon back to their lineup after he missed 48 games with a groin injury. He went 2 for 4 with a double, sacrifice fly and scored a run.

Justin Verlander threw his fifth consecutive quality start, and Ian Kinsler homered and drove in three runs.

The Tigers, who had lost nine of 10 to drop into last place in the AL Central, snapped a four-game losing streak.

Verlander (3-6) limited the Royals to seven hits and four runs, two unearned, over 6 2-3 innings. He has a 0.76 ERA in his past five starts and the Tigers' lone two victories since Aug. 19, including a one-hit shutout of the Angels in his previous outing.

PHOTO: Kansas City Royals' Eric Hosmer beats the tag at home by Detroit Tigers catcher James McCann to score on a sacrifice fly by Alex Gordon during the second inning of a baseball game Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2015, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
Kansas City Royals' Eric Hosmer beats the tag at home by Detroit Tigers catcher James McCann to score on a sacrifice fly by Alex Gordon during the second inning of a baseball game Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2015, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

"It wasn't spectacular, but it's nice to get the win for the team," Verlander said. "My fastball location was really good. When other pitches aren't working as well, fastball location gets you out of trouble."

Verlander's velocity picked up as the game went along. He was throwing 97 mph in his final inning, including 10 straight pitches of 95-plus.

"I'm aware of it," Verlander said.

The last time Verlander faced the Royals was Aug. 4 when he allowed five runs and 10 hits over seven innings. It was his only rough start in his past eight.

"Obviously we adjusted our game plan to have more success," catcher James McCann said.

Miguel Almonte gave up a two-run, seventh-inning homer to Kinsler in his major league debut. Kinsler also hit a two-out RBI single in the fourth.

Kendrys Morales homered in the fourth off Verlander. Omar Infante and Alcides Escobar had RBIs in the seventh.

The Royals cut the lead to one run in the eighth on a Salvador Perez single.

Bruce Rondon worked an unblemished ninth for his third save in four opportunities.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Tigers: LHP Daniel Norris (right oblique strain) made 60 throws from flat ground.

Royals: LF Gordon was reinstated after being out eight weeks with a strained left groin. ... RHP Kelvin Herrera and RF Alex Rios have the chickenpox and likely will miss a minimum of two weeks. ... 3B Mike Moustakas (pulled hamstring) did not start, but grounded out as a pinch hitter in the eighth.

UP NEXT

Tigers: LHP Randy Wolf makes his third start after losing his first two despite a 2.57 ERA.

Royals: Newly acquired OF Jonny Gomes will likely start Wednesday. He is 13 for 23 (.522) with two home runs off Wolf.

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