DETROIT (AP) — After being humiliated by the Kansas City Royals a day earlier, the Detroit Tigers were focused on redemption Sunday.
It came via one of the lesser-known members of the roster.
Journeyman Brandon Dixon, only in the majors due to a series of injuries, hit a three-run homer in the 10th inning to lift the Tigers over the Royals 5-2.
“That’s an unreal feeling,” Dixon said after his first career walk-off homer. “After yesterday, it felt so good to come around third and see the whole team waiting for me at the plate.”
The victory came less than 24 hours after the Tigers allowed 15 runs on 19 hits and 10 walks in a 15-3 loss.
“Obviously, that’s a game that can linger in the mind,” Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire said. “I told our guys to let it sting overnight, but once they threw the first pitch today, it had to be gone.”
Nicholas Castellanos started the 10th with an infield single off Ian Kennedy (0-1), and after Miguel Cabrera popped out, Niko Goodrum reached on another infield hit.
Ronny Rodriguez struck out, but Dixon hit a 1-2 curveball over the fence in right-center field.
“Kennedy was throwing fastballs on the corner, so I was really trying to protect the outside corner,” Dixon said. “But that curveball popped out of his hand, and I was able to get a good read on it.”
Kennedy wanted the ball in the dirt.
“I felt like the only bad pitch was that last curveball,” he said. “I meant to bounce it, but I didn’t think he would hit it out. I can’t remember the last time I gave up a homer on a curveball.”
Buck Farmer (2-2) got the win after retiring the last batter in the top of the 10th.
The Tigers led 2-1 going into the eighth and Joe Jimenez struck out the first two Royals, but Hunter Dozier hit his eighth homer over the right field wall to tie it.
Neither starter got a decision. Detroit’s Spencer Turnbull gave up one run in seven innings on six hits and a walk. He struck out seven.
“I felt really good with all my pitches today, and I felt like my slider was really good,” he said. “The best part was getting through seven for the first time this season.”
Brad Keller allowed two runs, six hits and five walks in 5 1/3 innings.
The Royals started the second inning with three straight hits, with Kelvin Gutierrez driving home Jorge Soler for a 1-0 lead. Turnbull escaped the inning without further damage.
JaCoby Jones led off the third with a double, Jeimer Candelario walked and Castellanos tied it with a single off Gutierrez’s glove at third. The Tigers still had runners on second and third with none out, but Keller struck out Cabrera and Goodrum before retiring Rodriguez to get out of the inning.
“Keller was really effective up in the zone today,” Yost said. “He was really, really good up there.”
Cabrera made it 2-1 with an RBI single in the fifth, and the Tigers loaded the bases with one out in the sixth. Scott Barlow replaced Keller and struck out Jones and Candelario.
Royals: 2B Chris Owings was out of the lineup for the second straight day. Owings is hitless in his last 13 at-bats and has gone 2 for 38 (.053) since a homer at Yankee Stadium on April 20.
Tigers: LF Christin Stewart (right quad strain) was scheduled to play his third rehab game for Class A Lakeland on Sunday. Stewart is expected to return to the Tigers lineup later this week.
TAKING ADVANTAGE OF MISTAKES
The Tigers were able to keep innings alive and score runs because of Gutierrez’s struggles at third base. He couldn’t flag down Castellanos’ RBI single in the third nor make clean plays on the two infield singles in the tenth.
“Two things we stress in this locker room are to catch the ball and to take advantage when the other team doesn’t,” Gardenhire said. “Nick and Niko were running hard on those plays and they turned them into a rally.”
Royals: Travel to Houston to start a three-game series against the Astros on Monday. Jakob Junis (3-2, 5.12) is scheduled to start the opener for the Royals against Gerrit Cole (2-4, 3.95).
Tigers: Off on Monday before hosting former manager Brad Ausmus and the Los Angeles Angels in a three-game series beginning Tuesday. Daniel Norris (1-0, 3.47) is starting the opener against Griffin Canning (0-0, 6.23) of the Angels.