DETROIT | The end came, fittingly, after Zack Greinke and Detroit’s Jarrod Washburn had each departed Friday’s series opener at Comerica Park.
Neither deserved to lose. Neither did.
Greinke and Washburn turned over a scoreless tie to their bullpens in the late innings. The Royals blinked first.
Brandon Inge’s one-out homer in the ninth inning against Roman Colon gave the Tigers a 1-0 victory. It came on a 2-1 fastball, clocked at 93 mph. It was deep enough that left fielder David DeJesus could only lean against the wall in frustration.
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Greinke pitched seven shutout innings in settling for his no-decision. He permitted three hits while striking out seven and walking four in a 108-pitch performance. He lowered his league-leading ERA to 2.33.
It was also his league-leading 20th quality start in 24 outings, although the Royals are now just 11-13 in his starts.
The Tigers had chances. They left one runner in the second, one in the third, two in the fourth, two in the fifth and two in the seventh. Greinke ended three of those threats with strikeouts.
Washburn was even better. He didn’t allow a hit until the fifth inning and just three in all before exiting after eight innings.
He also struck out four, walked two and faced only one serious threat. That came in the eighth when Royals put a runner at second with one out and had runners at first and third with two outs.
Colon, 1-2, replaced Greinke and worked a one-two-three eighth inning, before Brandon Lyon retired the Royals in order in the ninth. Colon struck out Marcus Thames to start the Detroit ninth before Inge unloaded his 23rd homer.
Lyon, 6-4, got the victory.
The loss dropped the Royals to 45-70 with 47 games remaining. They must go 18-29 or better to avoid a fifth 100-loss season in eight years.
Washburn retired the first 11 Royals before Billy Butler drew a two-out walk in the fourth before ending the inning by striking out Miguel Olivo. Washburn got two more outs in the fifth before Brayan Peña grounded a single through the left side.
The Royals got a two-out single in the sixth by Willie Bloomquist, but he was erased while attempting to steal season with Butler at the plate.
The Royals’ best threat came after Mark Teahen opened the eighth inning with a grounder up the middle for a single. He took second on a sacrifice by Peña and moved to third on Alex Gordon’s grounder to second.
Yuniesky Betancourt walked, but DeJesus bounced out to second.
Greinke had the better start. He struck out the side in the first inning, all swinging, on 11 pitches before the Tigers made him squirm.
Carlos Guillen worked a one-out walk in the second inning before Greinke gave up the game’s first hit on Curtis Granderson’s two-out double the third. Granderson got no farther when Placido Polanco flied to right.
Greinke got two quick outs in the fourth inning before issuing another walk to Guillen, who raced to third on Thames’ hit-and-run single to left. Greinke stranded both runners by striking out Inge.
Detroit mounted a two-out threat in the fifth when Granderson and Polanco each worked back from 1-2 counts for walks. Clete Thomas worked the count to 3-1 before striking out.
A sloppy two-out error by Betancourt allowed Adam Everett to reach in the seventh. It was a slow grounder to short that Betancourt surrounded before attempting a one-handed swipe that muffed the play.
Granderson followed with a single, but Greinke stranded two more runners by retiring Polanco on a fly to right.
To reach Bob Dutton, send e-mail to email@example.com. Follow his updates at twitter.com/Royals_Report.