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Royals beat Tigers 5-3; teams split the four game series

Detroit Tigers' Jonathan Schoop is greeted by teammate Miguel Cabrera after a solo home run to left field during the fourth inning against the Kansas City Royals, Thursday in Detroit. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

By NOAH TRISTER

AP Baseball Writer

DETROIT– Trevor Rosenthal couldn’t remember the last time he’d earned a save — nearly three years ago.

“It’s been a while,” he said.

That drought is finally over after Rosenthal pitched a scoreless ninth inning Thursday night in Kansas City’s 5-3 victory over the Detroit Tigers. The Royals overcame Miguel Cabrera’s first multihomer game since 2016.

Once a standout closer for St. Louis, Rosenthal has struggled with his health and his effectiveness in recent years, finishing 2019 with a 13.50 ERA in 22 appearances with the Nationals and Tigers. When he retired JaCoby Jones on a grounder to end the game, he gave his glove a little celebratory tap.

It was his first save since Aug. 12, 2017, when he was with St. Louis.

The Royals have scored 25 of their 31 runs this year in the first five innings, but this time their offense came through late. Whit Merrifield scored on Salvador Perez’s grounder to break a 2-all tie in the seventh. Bubba Starling added a double the following inning that gave Kansas City two insurance runs.

“Great jump by Whit on the contact play,” manager Mike Matheny said. “Then Bubba gets a chance to put an exclamation point on it right there. We needed those runs, obviously.”

Cabrera hit solo homers in the first and eighth, and Jonathan Schoop added one for Detroit in the fourth. It was Cabrera’s first multihomer game since Sept. 30, 2016 at Atlanta, and he’s gone deep three times in the first seven games this year after hitting only 12 home runs in all of 2019. He now has 480 for his career.

“He’s the smartest hitter in the game, no question about it,” said Ivan Nova, Detroit’s starting pitcher. “He has the timing, the intelligence and everything. He’s still getting a little bit older, but he’s still smart.”

Ryan O’Hearn opened the scoring in the top of the first with an RBI single, and Franchy Cordero hit a run-scoring single in the second to put the Royals up 2-1.

IN CONTROL

The Tigers went a third straight game without walking anybody — the first time they’ve done that since April 13-15, 2015.

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