Austin Jackson's 4 hits, Rick Porcello's pitching lead Tigers over Royals

DETROIT -- The Detroit Tigers found the perfect way to end their slump. They just had to play the Kansas City Royals again.

The Tigers improved to 4-0 this season against Kansas City, scoring five first-inning runs in a 9-3 victory Tuesday night. Detroit had gone 2-8 since sweeping the Royals on the road from April 16-18.

Rick Porcello (2-2) took advantage of the offensive support to snap out of his own skid, allowing three runs and seven hits. In his previous two starts, the right-hander was 0-2 with a 15.26 ERA, but things changed after a mechanical adjustment suggested by Tigers pitching coach Jeff Jones.

"Jonesy just suggested something to slow down my delivery," Porcello said. "My biggest problem has been my tempo -- I'm getting out too quick and leaving pitches up in the zone. Today, we slowed everything down."

Austin Jackson had four hits for the Tigers, matching a career high and raising his batting average to .314. Jackson, who hit .249 with 181 strikeouts last year, is only the second Tigers player since 1918 to have three four-hit games this early in the season.

"I'm not sure what is causing it. I'm just trying to time the ball and put good swings up," Jackson said. "I'm doing my best to get into scoring position and let the guys behind me do their jobs."

The win was the 1,600th of manager Jim Leyland's career, breaking a tie with Tommy Lasorda for 17th place.

"That was the Tigers team that I've been expecting to see," Leyland said. "It won't happen every night, obviously, but tonight we had action, we're playing a good game and everyone is running around the bases. That puts everyone in a good mood."

Luke Hochevar (2-2) took the loss for Kansas City, yielding nine runs on 12 hits and three walks in four innings. Hochevar had given up only three runs over 11 1/3 innings in his last two starts.

"I put us in a 5-0 hole in one inning, and that's tough for the guys to crawl out of," he said. "I didn't execute quality pitches. It's about as simple as that."

The teams were rained out Monday night, Kansas City's second rainout in three days. The Royals have lost two straight following a three-game winning streak that came on the heels of a 12-game skid.

"That's two straight terrible games after rainouts," Kansas City manager Ned Yost said. "I hope we get some good weather for a while."

After the Royals went down in order in the first, the Tigers put their first seven batters on base and needed just 17 pitches to do it. After two singles and Miguel Cabrera's double made it 1-0, Eric Hosmer's wild throw from first base to the plate allowed two more runs to score.

The next three Tigers singled, increasing the margin to 5-0, before Ramon Santiago grounded into a double play and Don Kelly popped out to end the inning.

Detroit added three more runs in the third on an RBI single by Kelly and Jackson's two-run double before Jhonny Peralta made it 9-0 with a run-scoring single in the fourth.

Kansas City got on the board with an RBI groundout by Humberto Quintero in the fifth, and Alex Gordon made it 9-2 with a double in the sixth. Jarrod Dyson led off the eighth with a stand-up triple and scored on Gordon's groundout.

The game took a strange twist in the ninth when Jeff Francoeur hit a long fly that bounced off the top of the fence in left-center. Jackson reached over the wall and caught the ball before it landed in the Kansas City bullpen, saving a home run. Second base umpire Tim McClelland -- appearing in his 4,000th game -- mistakenly called Francoeur out, but after a conference among the umpires, Francoeur was credited with a double.

"I was confused as heck, because I was pretty sure that you weren't supposed to be out when someone catches the ball off the wall," Francoeur said. "I had just been upset that Jackson caught it and cost me a home run. Tim immediately apologized to me and made the play right."

McClelland acknowledged his error, saying he had been focused on whether the ball was a home run or not.

"You would think that a guy with 4,000 games would have enough experience to not do something like that," he said, comparing the call to an inadvertent whistle in basketball.

Leyland argued the final decision, but joked about it after the game.

"It was his 4,000th game and I just wanted to get in on the action," he said.

Game notes
Porcello struck out three and walked none. ... Andy Dirks, filling in for suspended Tigers DH Delmon Young, left in the fourth inning after aggravating his strained left hamstring. Brad Eldred replaced him, marking his first career pinch-running appearance. ... Leyland said he does not plan to start Young when he returns Friday from a seven-day suspension, wanting to give him a day to "run around and get loose." ... Hosmer went 0 for 4, extending his hitless streak to 19 at-bats. "He crushed three balls and didn't get anything out of it," Yost said. "That's what happens when you are in a streak like that."