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KC@DET: Smyly fans six over seven strong frames

DETROIT -- It didn't take long Wednesday to determine that the Tigers' luck had not yet changed.

Precisely, it took until the fourth at-bat of the game.

The breaks again went Kansas City's way in a 2-1 win that dropped Detroit to 1 1/2 games out of first place in the American League Central.

On Thursday, Kansas City will have the chance to complete its first four-game series sweep of the Tigers since 1984, which happens to be Detroit's most recent season as World Series champions.

The day before, the Tigers found themselves out of a rally when a wild pitch hit the Comerica Park backstop and ricocheted back to the catcher, who made a play on the runner, caught between third base and home.

In the first inning of Wednesday's matinee, Detroit had Alex Gordon played perfectly, with shortstop Eugenio Suarez shaded right behind second base. Unfortunately for him, Gordon's grounder up the middle caromed off the bag, scoring the first run of the game for Kansas City, which has now won 10 straight.

"The way things are going right now, it's like you already know the ball's going to hit the bag," said Detroit starter Drew Smyly, who went deeper into a game than he ever had before. "That's how it is for us. We can't buy a break. … It just doesn't make any sense."

Through seven-plus innings, Smyly allowed just two runs on seven hits.

Tigers manager Brad Ausmus agreed the play up the middle typified his club's performance lately but said it should not have been a deciding factor in the outcome of the game.

"We had plenty of time to recover from that," he said. "That was the first inning. That being said, that's a difference between a team that's 9-20 and a team that's won 10 in a row. Sometimes you need something like that for those things to happen."

Unfortunately for the Tigers, they also ran into a hot pitcher. Detroit mustered only four hits off Jeremy Guthrie.

"He threw well," Ausmus said. "He had a good changeup working. But I feel like we've got to find a way to score there, or score more. But I don't want to take anything away from Guthrie. He pitched well."

Detroit's bad breaks did not stop after the RBI ricochet off second base, though.

An inning later, with the Royals shifting him, Victor Martinez laid down a perfect bunt that rolled foul past third base at the last possible moment. Instead of a rare bunt single from the slugger to begin the inning, it began with an equally rare strikeout.

In the fourth inning, with a runner in scoring position, J.D. Martinez appeared to find a gap in left-center, but Gordon made a diving catch to keep the tying run off the board.

Omar Infante continued his assault on his former team in the fifth with a solo homer to left off Smyly.

But other than a seventh-inning solo shot by J.D. Martinez, the Tigers were unable to figure out the Kansas City starter. Guthrie struck out a season-high nine batters.

Two batters after J.D. Martinez's homer brought Detroit to within one, Nick Castellanos launched a ball to left that landed mere inches shy of a tying home run -- the stroke of luck that helped seal the game.

The Tigers had another chance in the ninth inning, when Alex Avila came to the plate with two out and one on. He skied one to deep center that Ausmus said would have been a walk-off home run the day before, when winds were blowing out.

But that is the way things have been going for Detroit of late.

With the Tigers in free-fall, Ausmus was asked after the game if there were any extreme measures he could take to right the ship.

"If you're managing a struggling team and you do something radical, I can tell you from being a player in a clubhouse, you kind of lose some of the players," Ausmus said. "They're like, 'Oh, he's lost his mind.' You've got to be careful about doing something radical. We've talked about moving guys into different spots, hoping they click.

"Right now, there's nothing that's worked."

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