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JaCoby Jones' homer in 10th sends Tigers past Royals 3-2

DETROIT -- JaCoby Jones understands his job with the Detroit Tigers. The 25-year-old needs to use his athletic ability to make plays all over the field to boost a young team.

He did that Friday, hitting a solo home run with one out in the 10th inning as the Tigers won their fourth in a row, beating Kansas City 3-2 in the opener of a day-night doubleheader and handing the Royals their ninth straight loss.

His productivity, though, started earlier in the game.

Jones doubled in Detroit's first run, stole third base and scored. He then made an outstanding defensive play in left field in the ninth to help force extra innings.

"We know we're going to have to fight to find ways to beat the other guys, and (Jones) does that with his aggression," Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire said. "If he starts pushing things too far, I'll stop him, but I want him to play his game."

Jones hit a 2-2 fastball from Brad Keller (0-1) deep to left and immediately put up his right index finger in celebration.

"I was worried as the ball got toward the wall, because I was going to look stupid if it didn't go out," he said. "That's the best feeling in baseball."

Keller thought his pitch was an inch or two from perfection.

"We tried to go heaters off the plate, and I felt like I got it inside, but it caught too much plate," he said. "He put a good swing on it."

Joe Jimenez (2-0) pitched a scoreless 10th.

"We're going to have a lot of ups and downs with this team, but we're having fun right now," Gardenhire said. "These kids are fighting hard."

Royals starter Jason Hammel allowed two runs on five hits and two walks in nine innings, matching the longest outing of his career. He pitched a shutout for Baltimore against the Atlanta Braves in 2012.

The performance wasn't much solace, though.

"I try to be a positive guy, but there's not much silver lining here," he said. "We're trying to win. We know we're close, but losses are losses."

Tigers starter Daniel Fulmer pitched seven innings, allowing two runs on eight hits and a walk while striking out five.

Rain and snow meant Fulmer hadn't pitched since allowing nine runs in three innings to Cleveland on April 12.

"I hated waiting for eight days to start this game, because it had been so bad," he said. "The bright spot is I was able to make some adjustments and get closer to my best stuff."

The Tigers broke the scoreless tie in the fifth on back-to-back doubles by James McCann and Jones. Jones stole third on the next pitch and scored on Dixon Machado's one-out sacrifice fly.

"I knew (McCann) didn't get a great jump, but I was going for second all the way," Jones said. "When I got to second, I wanted to get to third. That's how I play."

Moustakas extended his hitting streak to 11 games with a solo homer in the sixth, pulling the Royals within 2-1. Jon Jay's RBI single tied the game with one out in the seventh.

Kansas City put two runners on with two out in the eighth, but Ryan Goins hit a sharp liner directly at Machado at second.

Alcides Escobar led off the ninth with a flyball to deep left, but Jones made a leaping catch at the wall.

"I knew I was up against the wall, and I didn't think it was going to go out, but I figured I should catch it either way," Jones said with a smile.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Royals: OF Alex Gordon is scheduled to begin a rehab assignment with Triple-A Omaha on Friday night. Gordon has been out since April 10 with a left hip tear. ... C Salvador Perez (knee) caught seven innings on Thursday for Double-A Memphis, and is expected to join Gordon in Omaha.

Tigers: Gardenhire pinch ran for Cabrera in the ninth inning, but the 35-year-old has played all 17 games this season despite hip and back issues. Gardenhire said Cabrera could get a day off on Detroit's upcoming road trip to Pittsburgh and Baltimore.

BIG NIGHTS AHEAD?

Tigers outfield prospect Mike Gerber was called up to be Detroit's 26th man for the doubleheader, while the Royals brought up reliever Scott Barlow. Neither has appeared in a major league game.

UP NEXT

The teams face each other again in the second game of the split doubleheader, with Detroit's Daniel Norris (0-1, 7.11) facing Kansas City's Jakob Junis (2-1, 1.93).

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