Tigers sweep Royals with 7-1 win

Well, now, wasn’t this a fine way for the Royals to conclude a three-day mess? Letting Detroit rookie Armando Galarraga flirt with a no-hitter before settling for a 7-1 victory that completed the Tigers’ three-game sweep.

Avoiding that no-hitter was one of the few highlights the Royals mustered in the entire series. The Tigers romped to a 19-4 victory in Monday’s opener before posting successive 7-1 victories.

That’s a 33-6 cumulative pasting over three games and leaves the Royals reeling at 45-57, which matches their 2007 record through 102 games.

Galarraga carried a no-hitter into the seventh before David DeJesus led off with clean single to right on a full-count fastball.

That eliminated the possibility of the Royals suffering a no-hitter for the second time in roughly three months after going nearly 35 years without it happening.

Galarraga, 8-4, lost his shutout soon thereafter but still ended a three-game losing streak by limiting the Royals to one run and three hits in seven innings.

Casey Fossum and Todd Jones closed out Detroit’s sweep, which partially avenged two earlier three-game sweeps by the Royals.

The Tigers peppered Royals starter Zack Greinke for five runs and six hits in the first three innings. Thereafter, all attention centered on whether the Royals could muster anything against Galarraga.

Greinke lost his third straight decision and fell to 7-7 after allowing five runs and seven hits in six innings. Horacio Ramirez surrendered two runs in the seventh.

Miguel Cabrera paced Detroit’s 13-hit attack with a two-run single in the third and an RBI single in the seventh. Magglio Ordoñez had two RBI singles.

The first three hitters in the Tigers’ lineup _ Curtis Granderson, Placido Polanco and Carlos Guillen _ each scored twice. Ordoñez and Polanco each had three hits.

In short, Galarraga had plenty of support.

A no-hitter loomed as a real possibility as Galarraga blew through the first six innings by retiring all 18 hitters in just 64 pitches.

DeJesus saved the Royals from that indignity.

Esteban German then drew a one-out walk, and José Guillen followed with an RBI single up the middle. Guillen’s RBI was his first since July 10 and only his second since a three-RBI burst on July 3.

The Royals loaded the bases on a single by Alex Gordon, but Galarraga avoided further damage by striking out Mark Teahen and retiring Miguel Olivo on a fly to center.

Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan stood as the only opponent to pitch a no-hitter against the Royals until Boston’s Jon Lester did it May 19 in a 7-0 victory at Fenway Park. Ryan’s no-hitter was May 15, 1973 in Royals Stadium’s inaugural season.

Galarraga, 26, began the year at Class AAA Toledo after the Tigers acquired him just prior to spring training from Texas for outfielder Michael Hernandez.

The Expos signed Galarraga as a non-drafted free agent in 1998. He went to Texas as part of the December 2005 that sent Alfonso Soriano to the Nationals.

DeJesus also had a double in the eighth against Fossum, but the Royals finished with just four hits. Mike Aviles’ hitting streak ended at 12 games when he went zero for four.

The Tigers, 52-49, moved three games above .500 for the first time and pulled temporarily to within five games of first-place Chicago in the American League Central Division.

Detroit started quickly against Greinke when Granderson worked back from a 1-2 count for a leadoff walk. Singles by Polanco and Ordoñez produced one run.

Polanco scored when Olivo threw to second after Cabrera swung though a full-count fastball. Ordoñez remained in the rundown long enough for Polanco to score.

Greinke’s problems continued in the second after Matt Joyce opened the inning with a pop-fly double when third baseman Alex Gordon and Aviles collided in short left field.

Center fielder Joey Gathright ran down Gary Sheffield’s drive into the left-center gap, but a wild pitch moved Joyce to third. That prompted the Royals to pull their infield in, and Edgar Renteria responded by blooping an RBI single just onto the grass behind short.

It got no better in the third inning.

Polanco led off with a single and went to second on a walk to Guillen. Ordoñez’s grounder to third moved the runners to second and third before Cabrera delivered a two-run single for a 5-0 lead.

Greinke settled into a groove thereafter and retired 11 of the next 12 hitters, including six on strikeouts. He struck out Guillen, Ordoñez and Cabrera in the fifth. All swinging.

It was too late.

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