Most of the 32,360 fans at Comerica Park groaned when Jhonny Peralta hit a tailor-made double-play grounder that looked set to end the eighth inning.
Andy Dirks made them cheer.
Jhonny Peralta's grounder brought home the go-ahead run because Dirks's hard slide broke up a potential inning-ending double play in the eighth and the Detroit Tigers beat the Kansas City Royals 5-4 Wednesday night.
"I was just trying to break up the double play and try to get a piece of him any way I could to help us score that run," Dirks said. "That's just kind of the way you play baseball."
Detroit started the day tied with the Chicago White Sox atop the AL Central for the first time since Sept. 2. After beating Kansas City, some of the Tigers watched the White Sox host Cleveland, quietly rooting for the Indians while eating ribs and drinking beer.
Triple Crown candidate Miguel Cabrera was robbed of a tiebreaking homer in the fifth inning by Alex Gordon's catch above the left-field wall.
Detroit found a way to break through the eighth.
It appeared as if Kansas City was going to keep the score tied when Peralta hit a grounder to third baseman Mike Moustakas. Dirks, though, slid so late and hard that second baseman Irving Falu didn't attempt a throw, allowing pinch-runner Don Kelly to score what he said was most important run of his career.
Dirks was swarmed by teammates in the dugout to celebrate the gritty, clean play he made.
"That's good, old-fashioned baseball," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said.
Cabrera, who went 0-for-4, started the day with the AL lead in batting average and RBIs and was one homer behind Texas' Josh Hamilton. Baseball hasn't had a player lead a league in all three categories since Boston's Carl Yastrzemski in 1967.
Cabrera was close to pulling into at least a temporary tie with Hamilton for homers, but Gordon prevented him from hitting his 43rd homer.
"It was hit so high that I had plenty of time to find the fence and get ready," Gordon said. "I thought I might have to climb the wall or at least jump, but at the end, I just had to put my glove up."
The Tigers have won six of nine games on their final 10-game homestand and 32 of their last 43 games at Comerica Park. They had, however, lost 11 straight one-run games since beating Toronto 3-2 on Aug. 23.
CHICAGO — The slumping White Sox fell out of the AL Central lead for the first time in two months, walking 12 batters and losing to Cleveland.
Chicago, which has lost seven of eight, had been in sole possession or tied at the top every day since July 24. But Detroit moved ahead by a game, beating Kansas City 5-4 with a week left in the regular season.
The White Sox have lost seven of their last eight and have seven games remaining - four at home against Tampa Bay and three at Cleveland next week. They'll need to regroup in a hurry.
Shin-Soo Choo had a go-ahead RBI grounder in the seventh off Matt Thornton (4-9) and Vinny Rottino hit his first homer for Cleveland in the eighth off Brett Myers.
ARLINGTON, Tex. — Yoenis Cespedes had one of Oakland's two triples in the first inning and the visiting Athletics jumped out to a quick lead to pull within three games of the AL West-leading Rangers.
The Athletics, who had played five consecutive one-run games, led 5-0 only eight batters into the game. They chased Martin Perez (1-3) before the rookie left-hander got all the way through the batting order.
Oakland has won two of three in the series that wraps up with a day game Thursday. After that, the A's go home for a three-game weekend series against Seattle before hosting the Rangers for the final three games of the regular season next week.
Stephen Drew had four of Oakland's 16 hits, including a double leading off the game before scoring on Cespedes's triple into the right-centre gap.
BOSTON — Carlos Pena and Ben Francisco hit back-to-back, tape-measure homers in the fifth inning to lead Tampa Bay to its seventh consecutive victory.
The Rays remained 3 1/2 games behind Baltimore for second place in the AL East. Tampa Bay began the day three games behind Oakland for the second wild-card spot.
It was the final home game of the season for the Red Sox, and perhaps the last at Fenway Park for Boston manager Bobby Valentine. Hired to inspire a fractious clubhouse after the team went 7-20 last September under Terry Francona, Valentine instead presided over what could be the worst Red Sox team since 1965.
Alex Cobb (10-9) allowed one run on three hits and a walk, striking out five in five innings as the Rays matched their longest winning streak of the season. Fernando Rodney pitched the ninth for his 45th save in 47 chances.
ANAHEIM, Calif. — Torii Hunter's RBI singles tied it in the seventh inning and ended it in the ninth, and Los Angeles rallied to keep pace in the AL wild-card race with its fifth consecutive victory.
Erick Aybar had an early two-run double before Hunter ended it for the Angels (86-69), who remained two games behind Oakland (88-67) after the other three teams in the AL wild-card race all won earlier in the day.
Pinch-hitter Maicer Izturis opened the ninth with a single off Stephen Pryor (3-1) and advanced to third on a wild pitch and Peter Bourjos' bunt. Seattle walked rookie Mike Trout to face Hunter, who coolly stroked a single to centre.
MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. — CC Sabathia struck out 10 batters over eight innings and New York remained 1 1/2 games ahead of Baltimore in the AL East.
The Orioles beat Toronto 12-2 on Wednesday night. The Yankees visit the Blue Jays for four games starting Thursday. Baltimore, after an off day, plays Boston at home this weekend.
Sabathia (14-6) threw 89 of his 118 pitches for strikes.
Robinson Cano hit a two-run double and Curtis Granderson added a two-run triple during a six-run third inning against Brian Duensing (4-11), and Sabathia took care of the rest. The burly lefty gave up six hits, two runs and one walk.