DETROIT (AP) — The Detroit hitters kept squaring around to bunt, and Greg Holland kept throwing pitches nowhere near his intended target.
Then the Tigers finally put a ball in play, and Holland got exactly what he needed.
Hernan Perez — batting only because Miguel Cabrera had been removed for a pinch-runner the previous inning — grounded into a crucial double play in the 10th, and Holland escaped a bases-loaded, nobody-out jam to close out Kansas City's 2-1 victory over the Tigers early Monday. The game was delayed 103 minutes by rain in the middle of the ninth.
"I just didn't have any command of my pitches, so I was really working hard out there," Holland said.
Omar Infante's sacrifice fly in the top of the 10th put the Royals ahead, but Holland allowed a single and two walks to start the bottom half. Anthony Gose and Ian Kinsler both squared around to bunt but ended up taking walks as Holland struggled.
Perez then bounced into a 5-2-3 double play, but another walk to Victor Martinez loaded the bases again.
Holland then struck out Yoenis Cespedes for his sixth save in six chances.
Jason Frasor (1-0) got the win, working out of a bases-loaded jam of his own in the ninth.
Angel Nesbitt (0-1) took the loss.
The game was delayed after the top of the ninth, with the score tied at 1 and Luke Hochevar ready to take the mound for the Royals. The tarp was put on the field, then removed, then put on again. Hochevar never ended up pitching.
"I thought the rain was conspiring to beat us," Kansas City manager Ned Yost said. "We had Luke up, and then he was done before he ever throws a pitch, and then Frasor is hot because they have the tarp off, and it starts raining again so we almost lost him."
The Tigers nearly won it in the ninth. Frasor allowed a leadoff walk to Cabrera and a single by Martinez, but he eventually got James McCann to fly out with the bases loaded to end the inning.
Nesbitt began the 10th with a hit batter, and there was some question about whether the pitch actually grazed Alex Gordon's jersey.
"Certain angles it may look like it missed him, but you can clearly see it when it slows down: It hits the jersey and it snaps back to the left, after being hit," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. "So there was no phantom hit by pitch."
Nesbitt then threw a wild pitch, and after Gordon advanced to third on a groundout, Infante's flyball made it 2-1.
The Royals lead Detroit by 1 1/2 games atop the AL Central.
The Royals took a 1-0 lead when Kendrys Morales and Gordon led off the second with consecutive doubles. Detroit tied it in the third thanks to an ill-advised play by Infante, the second baseman.
Gose tried to bunt his way on with two outs, and Infante tried to flip the ball acrobatically behind his back to first. It sailed wildly, and Gose ended up on second — the play was scored an infield single and an error.
After moving into scoring position, Gose was able to come home on Kinsler's single.
Kansas City starter Chris Young allowed an unearned run and three hits in six innings, while Shane Greene of the Tigers allowed a run and four hits in eight innings.
Young has allowed opponents to hit only .091 this season.
Royals: Holland also pitched Saturday. This was the first time he appeared in back-to-back games since returning from a pectoral injury.
Tigers: Detroit is pushing LHP David Price (hamstring) back to Saturday for his next start. ... Tigers RHP Justin Verlander (triceps) threw off flat ground before the game. ... Detroit SS Jose Iglesias (groin) was out of the lineup.
The Tigers are off Monday. The Royals send LHP Danny Duffy (2-1) to the mound against RHP Colby Lewis (2-2) of the Rangers in the opener of a four-game series at Texas.