DETROIT (AP) — Anibal Sanchez threw his first shutout in over a year, and the Detroit Tigers moved into a tie for first in the AL Central with a 2-0 victory over the Kansas City Royals on Tuesday night.
Detroit pulled even with the White Sox with eight games to play after Chicago lost 4-3 to Cleveland earlier in the day.
Sanchez (4-6) retired the first 11 hitters he faced and allowed only three hits. He struck out 10 and walked one.
He threw 105 pitches in his first shutout since Sept. 10, 2011, when he tossed a one-hitter for Florida at Pittsburgh.
Bruce Chen (11-13) gave up RBI singles by Prince Fielder and Delmon Young in the first inning.
The Tigers trailed the White Sox by three games on the morning of Sept. 19, but they’ve made up the ground and will have a chance to win a second straight division title if they can finish strongly enough.
Sanchez pounded the strike zone early in his best start since coming over to Detroit from Miami in a July trade. Only one Royals player hit the ball out of the infield until Alex Gordon and Billy Butler broke up the perfect game bid with consecutive singles in the fourth for Kansas City.
Sanchez got out of that jam when Salvador Perez’s line drive was snagged by third baseman Miguel Cabrera.
The Tigers hit six singles in the first two innings, but Chen was able to limit the damage by getting out of a bases-loaded, nobody-out situation in the second. Omar Infante hit a shallow fly, and Cabrera and Fielder both struck out.
Detroit didn’t really threaten again until the seventh, when reliever Louis Coleman struck out Young with the bases loaded for the third out.
Chen allowed two runs and 10 hits in 6 2-3 innings.
Sanchez now has six quality starts in his last seven outings. In the third, he stopped Eric Hosmer’s comebacker with his bare hand and threw the ball hard over to Fielder at first for the out. He made another hard throw to first on Jarrod Dyson’s 1-3 groundout in the eighth.
There was activity in the Detroit bullpen to start the ninth, but Sanchez returned to the mound to a warm ovation from the home crowd and retired the side in order.
Cabrera went hitless, ending his 14-game hitting streak.
NOTES: The time of game was 2 hours, 13 minutes. … The Tigers acquired RHP Greg Ross from Atlanta as the player to be named in an Aug. 31 deal that sent Jeff Baker to the Braves. Ross will be assigned to Class A Lakeland. … Detroit RHP Rick Porcello (9-12) faces Kansas City RHP Jeremy Guthrie (4-3) on Wednesday night.
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