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DETROIT (AP) — Alcides Escobar was ready for Anibal Sanchez to throw a fastball on the first pitch of the game.
"I said, 'If he throws me a fastball right down the middle, I'm swinging no matter what,'" the Kansas City shortstop said.
Escobar hit a leadoff homer and made a sparkling catch of Miguel Cabrera's line drive two innings later, and the Royals went on to a 6-2 victory over the Detroit Tigers on Saturday. Kansas City moved back into first place in the AL Central after the Tigers had taken a half-game lead by beating the Royals in a sloppily played series opener Friday night.
Jeremy Guthrie (2-2) allowed two runs in 7 1-3 innings for the Royals. Sanchez (2-4) allowed six runs and nine hits in six innings, his ERA rising to 5.44 on the young season.
Sanchez came into the game with a 1.40 ERA in eight career starts against Kansas City, but the Royals were aggressive early and scored all their runs in the first four innings.
Guthrie allowed fewer than three runs for the first time this year.
Escobar belted Sanchez's first offering well beyond the fence in left field for his first home run of the season. Eric Hosmer added an RBI double that inning, and Kansas City scored two more runs in the second on RBI singles by Escobar and Hosmer.
It was 5-1 in the bottom of the third when Cabrera's liner was caught by Escobar — the shortstop went diving to his right to make the play.
Omar Infante brought another run home for the Royals with a fourth-inning single.
Detroit's second run came in the sixth. Victor Martinez led off with a double, and Nick Castellanos sent a two-out drive to right-center that Lorenzo Cain and Jarrod Dyson both tried to catch against the wall. The ball hit the wall in between their gloves and caromed back for a triple that made it 6-2.
"That's nobody's ball. That's a play that nobody can call. There's no communication there," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "That was in no-man's land. Not a lot of outfielders get to that ball, and we had two of them at the same time."
Guthrie allowed eight hits and a walk with three strikeouts in his longest outing of the season.
Kansas City catcher Salvador Perez had his first day off of the season. Drew Butera replaced him behind the plate and went hitless.
Perez had played at least one out at catcher in 55 straight regular-season games, according to STATS. That was the longest streak since Bob Boone of the California Angels had a run of 65 games in 1987-88.
BACK AND FORTH
The Tigers outlasted the Royals by one game to win the AL Central last year, and there hasn't been much separating the teams in 2015 either.
"I think it's going to be like that all year long," Yost said. "It's just going to be give and take."
The Royals and Tigers split a four-game series at Kansas City, and they've also split the first two of this three-game set.
"They've got everything they had last year, but now they've got more offense," Detroit manager Brad Ausmus said. "I think adding a veteran like (designated hitter Kendrys) Morales helped, but they've also got a lot of guys who look more polished at the plate."
Royals: Closer Greg Holland worked a scoreless ninth in a non-save situation. It was his second appearance since returning from a pectoral injury.
Tigers: Detroit put C Alex Avila on the 15-day DL with a knee injury and said LHP David Price has a mild strain of his right hamstring.
The Royals will send RHP Chris Young (2-0) to the mound against RHP Shane Greene (3-2) in the series finale Sunday night. Young held the Tigers hitless in five innings on May 1 in his only start of the season so far.