DETROIT — Alex Gordon’s grand slam highlighted a five-run 10th inning for the Kansas City Royals, who rallied against the Detroit bullpen for an 8-3 win Thursday after Tigers ace Justin Verlander left with a thumb injury.
George Kottaras put the Royals ahead 4-3 with a bases-loaded walk off Phil Coke (0-3). Darin Downs came on for Detroit after that, but Gordon broke the game open one out later with his homer over the center-field wall.
Verlander is day-to-day with what the team said was cracked skin on his throwing thumb. The right-hander allowed two runs — one earned — in seven innings and left with a 3-2 lead. Bruce Rondon gave up the tying run in the eighth in his major league debut.
Tim Collins (1-0) got the win.
Rondon, the hard-throwing 22-year-old who was a candidate in spring training to become Detroit’s closer, began the season in the minor leagues but was called up this week. Jose Valverde is back with the Tigers, trying to show he can handle the closer spot again, and Rondon came on for the first time Thursday.
He reached 100 mph according to the Comerica Park scoreboard, but Billy Butler led off against him with a single, and pinch-runner Jarrod Dyson stole second. Dyson eventually scored on Lorenzo Cain’s sacrifice fly.
Coke looked sharp in the ninth but lost his control in the 10th as a steady rain fell at Comerica Park. Cain doubled with one out, and Coke walked Mike Moustakas. After a wild pitch moved the runners to second and third, Jeff Francoeur was walked intentionally, and Coke still couldn’t find the plate against Kottaras.
Chris Getz grounded into a force out at the plate, but Gordon’s second homer of the year added four more runs.
The game started after a 30-minute rain delay, another interruption in an unusual road trip for the Royals. Kansas City had a game at Boston last Friday postponed because of the manhunt for a suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings. When the Royals arrived in Detroit for what was supposed to be a three-game series, the opener was rained out Tuesday.
Kansas City has not played a home game since April 14. Since then, the Royals have played seven road games in 11 days. They’ll be back home Friday night against Cleveland.
Miguel Cabrera opened the scoring with an RBI single in the first, but the Royals tied it in the third when Alcides Escobar hit an infield single, stole second and scored on Butler’s single. Butler had three hits on the day and improved to 23 for 55 (.418) off Verlander, the best mark of anyone with at least 30 at-bats against the Detroit ace.
With one out and Cain on first in the fourth, Francoeur hit a grounder that first baseman Prince Fielder couldn’t get to. Second baseman Omar Infante came over to field it, but not only did he have no play at first, he fumbled the ball for an error and allowed Cain to go all the way to third.
The extra base was important, because Salvador Perez followed with a sacrifice fly to make it 2-1.
Detroit answered in the bottom of the inning when starter James Shields walked Fielder and threw two wild pitches, putting the slugger on third. Jhonny Peralta’s sacrifice fly tied it.
Torii Hunter’s run-scoring single in the fifth gave Detroit a 3-2 lead. Butler was waiting on deck with a man on first in the seventh, but Escobar hit a grounder back to Verlander, who started an inning-ending double play.
Verlander left the game after that, but Butler’s final hit started the tying rally against Rondon.
Verlander allowed eight hits, walked one and struck out four. Shields, acquired by Kansas City in an offseason trade in an effort to bolster the starting rotation, allowed three runs and five hits in eight innings. He walked three and struck out four.
NOTES: Ervin Santana (2-1) takes the mound for the Royals against Scott Kazmir (0-0) on Friday. The Tigers host a three-game series against Atlanta. Detroit’s Anibal Sanchez (2-1) faces Paul Maholm (3-1) in the opener Friday night.