Guillen gets it done early and late
Greinke gives up two runs on nine hits over six frames
KANSAS CITY -- Jose Guillen, long after the Royals' victory was logged in the books, finally plopped down on a chair at his locker and smiled. There was good reason.
Guillen drove in two runs and then set up the winning run, both times with a two-out double, in the Royals' 3-2 victory over the Detroit Tigers on Tuesday night at Kauffman Stadium.
It was a welcome burst for Guillen, who has had too few so far this season.
"Same guy, trying to survive," Guillen said. "I was lucky enough to get a good pitch to hit."
There were two runners on base in the third inning against left-hander Nate Robertson when Guillen drilled a long drive that, on a warm midsummer night, might have been a home run. But it banged into the left-field wall to tie the game up at 2.
Another good pitch came Guillen's way from reliever Francisco Cruceta in the eighth inning after two were down. The ball went into the left-field corner for a double, and prompted manager Trey Hillman to put in Esteban German to run for Guillen, who was still slowed by a hip injury.
Guillen has hit in five straight games, going 10-for-18 (.556) with five doubles. That's improved the batting average that folks see on the giant CrownVision board at Kauffman Stadium to .216.
"It's not nice when you see that 1-something," Guillen said. "It's always good when you see that 2-something there. But it's not something that's in the back of my head."
With German perched on second, Billy Butler drew a walk. Mark Teahen hit a grounder up the middle that shortstop Edgar Renteria stopped and tried to flip back-handed to Placido Polanco for a force out of pinch-runner Ross Gload.
"It was a laser," Teahen joked. "Honestly, when I hit it, I thought it was up the middle, but it was a nice play to keep it in the infield."
Nice play, though it didn't make the stop, and German flew home with what would be the deciding run.
"If they get me at second, it's a great play," Gload said. "If they take it and turn and check home and no one scores, it forces us to get another hit. But it's an aggressive play -- you play for the out there."
That was Renteria's thought.
"It's a tough, tough play," Renteria said. "But in the situation, you have to take the best chance. I thought it was my best chance. That's why I flipped the ball."
"It's really hard," Polanco said. "He caught it running, so he threw it moving. It's a tough throw right there, and he tried, you know? I was alert to [be ready to] block it, but it was far."
The late run meant that Leo Nunez, the second of three Royals relievers, got the victory, his third of the season. He rescued Ramon Ramirez, who got in a jam after taking over for Zack Greinke in the seventh. Greinke was lifted with the score tied at 2, and had no shot at his fifth win.
Greinke left with a flourish, striking out Ivan Rodriguez with the bases loaded in the sixth on three hard pitches. That came just after second baseman Mark Grudzielanek's block of Renteria's soft liner, preventing the go-ahead run.
"I just wanted to make sure I kept within a range to me -- probably if I went by a different angle, I could've caught it," Grudzielanek said. "I'm just glad I did it that way rather than let it squiggle by for an RBI, because then we'd have been in trouble."
Another excellent defensive play thwarted the Tigers in the ninth. Closer Joakim Soria had one out when Curtis Granderson laced a bouncer right along the right-field line.
Gload, just in the game, went into foul ground to snag the ball which crossed first base fair. His long flip was low, but Soria, as he crossed the bag, leaned down for the catch and the out.
"They put you in there for that reason -- you can't mess it up," Gload said. "If you mess it up, they say, 'That's why we put you in there.' If you make a great play, they say, 'You're supposed to do that.'"
He did make a great play on what looked like a foul ball.
"I think we were all a little confused because it was so close to being foul," Gload said. "I think we all thought it was foul but that's why you play through those and don't take anything for granted."
Soria got Polanco to ground out and he had his ninth save and extended his record of not giving up a run all season to 16 innings. Four of those innings and three of Soria's saves have come against the Tigers.
For Guillen, things are finally coming around. He's made some adjustments at the plate.
"It's the same guy, but a different approach now," he said. "I've been working hard every day with our hitting coach and doing everything I can to help this team to win."
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.