Justin Thompson loves Kauffman Stadium.
It's where he made his first major league appearance, won his first game and where he turned in another memorable performance Saturday night.
Thompson (5-6) struck out five and walked three. In his last outing, he pitched a three-hitter in a 4-1 victory Sunday at Milwaukee. He's 3-1 lifetime against the Royals, who dropped back behind the Tigers into the AL Central cellar.
"Things are starting to come along pretty well," said Thompson, who started the season 1-4. "I threw fastball-changeup again tonight, threw one curveball, and that's just what I did last game.
"That just shows you when you spot your fastball, what your changeup can do. You don't even need a third pitch."
Thompson's teammates backed him up with 14 hits, 11 off Pat Rapp (5-6).
Luis Gonzalez drove in three runs, Brian Hunter went 3-for-4, and rookie designated hitter Frank Catalanotto capped the Tigers' three-run third inning with a two-run single for a 4-1 lead.
Joe Randa and Bobby Higginson homered on consecutive pitches in the ninth off Jamie Walker.
Gonzalez drew a bases-loaded walk, the third of three passes in the first inning by Rapp, to give the Tigers a 1-0 lead.
Gonzalez added an RBI infield single in the third when first baseman Jeff King couldn't get the ball out of his glove in time to throw out Randa at the plate. King could have made a play at first, but nobody was covering.
"We'll take them any way we can get them. It's a game of inches," said Gonzalez, who singled home another run in the seventh for a 5-1 lead. "Thompson pitched a good game for us tonight, and we were able to get some runs early for him."
Rapp is 2-6 with a 6.42 ERA this season at Kauffman Stadium. He went seven innings, striking out six and giving up all three of his walks in the first inning.
"In Pat's defense, I thought he threw really well," said Royals bench coach Jamie Quirk, who is the team's acting manager while Tony Muser serves an eight-game suspension. "We had some bad defense in the third inning that cost him a lot of runs. Jeff couldn't get the ball out of his glove, and that kind of gets their inning going."
Kansas City's Shane Mack had an RBI single in the second to tie it at 1.
Notes: King extended his hitting streak to a season-high eight games with a leadoff single in the second. ... Detroit had two runners thrown out between third and home. In the first, Randa tried to score on a pitch that got past catcher Sal Fasano, who recovered and threw to Rapp covering the plate. In te third, Tony Clark was caught in a rundown on Damion Easley's comebacker to the mound. ... Kansas City is 1-3 since Muser began his suspension. ... Saturday was African-American Heritage Night at Kauffman Stadium. The Royals wore replica uniforms of the Negro League's Kansas City Monarchs, and the Tigers wore uniforms of the Detroit Cubs, a semipro team of the 1930s. ... The Tigers announced Saturday that infielder-outfielder Jeff Manto refused an assignment to Triple-A Toledo and became a free agent. He hit .267 with a home run and three RBIs in 16 games with the Tigers, after being claimed off waivers from the Cleveland Indians on April 24.
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