Tigers maul Royals' bullpen

SPORTS NETWORK

, Last Updated: 10:38 PM ET

Kansas City, MO - Johnny Damon and Miguel Cabrera each recorded two hits and two RBI, as the Tigers used a six-run seventh inning to come away with an 8-4 victory against Kansas City on Opening Day at Kauffman Stadium.

Damon and Brandon Inge both had two-run doubles during the seventh, which came after 2009 AL Cy Young winner Zack Greinke exited with a 4-2 lead through six frames.

Austin Jackson, Curtis Granderson's replacement in center field, added a run- scoring double in his major-league debut. Justin Verlander, making his third career Opening Day start for the Tigers, was pulled after five innings and 93 pitches having allowed four runs on six hits.

A 19-game winner in 2009, Verlander struck out six and walked one. Joel Zumaya (1-0) was credited with the win for tossing a scoreless sixth.

Jose Valverde, brought in to shore up the back end of a shaky Tigers bullpen, closed it out in the ninth in a non-save situation for the Tigers, who blew a three-game division lead with four to play last season before falling in a one-game playoff to the Minnesota Twins to decide the AL Central.

Greinke gave up just two runs -- one earned -- and six hits, struck out four and walked one in outdueling Verlander. Then came the Royals bullpen, which coughed up the lead immediately as Roman Colon, Robinson Tejeda (0-1) and Juan Cruz combined to pitch a disastrous seventh.

"I mean, 4-2 is not a comfortable lead," Greinke said. "You expect something to happen to where it's going to be where you need a big out. They'll get the hit or they won't. You expect something close to happen, just not right away like that."

Yuniesky Betancourt tagged Verlander for a two-run homer in the second inning and Billy Butler had a bases-loaded, two-run single in the fifth for a Royals team that finished three losses shy of 100 last season.

"You know it's going to be a low-scoring game probably, especially when he (Greinke) is in the game," Verlander said. "But you never know what can happen in this game, so even I gave up the two-run homer, I just went back out to keep us in it."

Colon took to the bump to start the seventh and protect a two-run lead, but things began to come unglued from the start. Rookie second baseman Scott Sizemore, taking over for Placido Polanco, drew a walk and Ramon Santiago singled to bring out Tejeda from KC's pen.

Jackson made his first big-league hit count with a double into the left-field corner to score Sizemore and Damon cleared the bases with a double to right before Magglio Ordonez went down swinging for the first out.

Cabrera's single back through the middle kept things going to plate Damon and Inge later doubled home two off Cruz for an 8-4 lead.

Zumaya, Phil Coke and Ryan Perry bridged the gap to the ninth by allowing three baserunners over the next three innings for Detroit to help preserve the win.

The Tigers struck first in the game's opening inning, getting an unearned run on Willie Bloomquist's error. Kansas City, though, was back in front on Betancourt's two-run shot an inning later.

The Royals added two more in the fifth on Butler's single through the left side with the bases full, but squandered a chance for more as Rick Ankiel struck out to end the inning.

Game Notes

Detroit improved to 51-58-1 on Opening Day...Verlander, who was handed a new five-year contract in the offseason, finished third to Greinke and Seattle's Felix Hernandez in the Cy Young voting a year ago...In Wednesday's second installment to this three-game set, Detroit's Max Scherzer will toe the rubber opposite Luke Hochevar...David DeJesus and Chris Getz had multi-hit games for the Royals, who went 3-for-10 with runners inn scoring position...Ordonez and Carlos Guillen added two hits apiece for Detroit.


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