DETROIT — Alex Gordon and Mike Moustakas homered as part of a seven-run second inning, and the Royals took over first place in the AL Central on Tuesday night with their ninth straight victory, 11-4 over the Tigers.
Gordon and Moustakas hit two-run shots off Max Scherzer, and Kansas City got a second straight emphatic win to open this four-game series. The Royals, who trailed the Tigers by seven games after a May 20 loss, now lead Detroit by a half-game.
Scherzer yielded a career high-tying 10 runs in four-plus innings. The reigning American League Cy Young Award winner allowed the first eight batters of the second inning to reach base, with Kansas City scoring six before making an out.
Ian Kinsler hit a solo homer for Detroit.
Kansas City is in first place this late in the season for the first time since 2003, according to STATS. The Royals were leading the division in late August that year only to finish third at 83-79. They have not made the postseason since winning the World Series in 1985.
After winning 86 games in 2013, Kansas City is hoping to unseat the Tigers, who have won the past three division titles. Detroit looked headed for a fourth straight after a 27-12 start, but now the Tigers are facing a surprising number of questions about their starting rotation, which was expected to be among the best in baseball.
Justin Verlander has slumped badly over the past month; he took the loss in Kansas City's 11-8 victory in the series opener Monday. Scherzer pitched his first career shutout last week, but the Royals tagged him for 10 hits in his next start.
Gordon opened the scoring with his two-run drive to rightfield, and Moustakas' homer made it 4-0. Omar Infante added a two-run single before Eric Hosmer finally made the first out of the second inning on a tapper back to the pitcher. Some fans cheered sarcastically, even though another run came home on the play to make it 7-0.
Verlander and Scherzer combined to allow 17 runs in the first two games of this series. That's the most ever by teammates with Cy Young Awards in back-to-back team games, according to STATS.
Rookie Yordano Ventura allowed two runs in the second, but that was the first of three consecutive innings in which Detroit hit into a double play.