DETROIT (AP) -- Prince Fielder went three weeks without a homer, and the Detroit Tigers kept right on rolling.
Now that drought's over -- and Fielder's team is sitting pretty in the AL Central.
Fielder's two-run shot in the first inning Thursday night sent the Tigers to a 4-1 victory over the Kansas City Royals. Andy Dirks added four hits for Detroit, which leads second-place Cleveland by 61/2 games in the division.
"Prince produces runs. I don't care how he does it," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "Tonight happened to be by way of the home run, but he's a run producer, always has been. It's in the book and it'll be in the book at the end of this year."
Dirks had two doubles and two singles for the Tigers, who took the opener of this five-game series with third-place Kansas City. The Royals have lost three in a row after a 17-3 stretch that put them in contention for a postseason spot.
Kansas City now trails Detroit by 81/2 games in the division. The Royals are 51/2 behind Oakland in the race for a wild card.
Detroit's Anibal Sanchez (11-7) allowed a run and seven hits in 71/3 innings. Bruce Rondon finished the eighth, and Joaquin Benoit pitched a hitless ninth for his 16th save in 16 chances.
Jeremy Guthrie (12-9) allowed four runs and 13 hits in seven innings.
Fielder went deep for the first time since July 24, belting a towering drive to right-center to give Detroit a 2-1 lead. The Tigers scored two more runs in the fifth on RBI singles by Torii Hunter and Miguel Cabrera.
RAYS 7, MARINERS 1
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Alex Cobb pitched five strong innings in his first big league game since being hit in the head by a batted ball two months ago and the Rays beat the Mariners.
Cobb (7-2) ended his night by striking out Nick Frankiln on a full-count pitch with the bases loaded and two outs in the fifth.,
Wil Myers, who had four RBIs, drove in two with a double and Evan Longoria added a two-run homer off Joe Saunders (10-12) that put the Rays up 5-1 in the fifth.
ANGELS 8, YANKEES 4
NEW YORK -- Chris Nelson hit his first two home runs of the season, including a grand slam against his former team, to send C.J. Wilson and the Angels past the Yankees.
Josh Hamilton and rookie J.B. Shuck each had an RBI single to help the struggling Angels prevent a four-game sweep. .
Alfonso Soriano extended his sensational tear, going 4 for 5 with an RBI single, but the Yankees managed little else until a three-run ninth.
ATHLETICS 5, ASTROS 0
OAKLAND, Calif. -- Sonny Gray struck out nine on the way to an impressive first major league victory, using Nate Freiman's two-run homer and four RBIs to lead the Athletics to a victory over Houston.
The 23-year-old Gray (1-1) allowed four hits and walked one over eight innings, throwing 118 pitches in his second career start and fourth big league appearance.
Oakland jumped on Erik Bedard (3-9) in a hurry. He dropped to 0-6 over eight starts since a win against St. Louis on June 26.
BLUE JAYS 2, RED SOX 1
TORONTO -- Pinch-hitter Mark DeRosa hit a tiebreaking sacrifice fly in the seventh inning, Mark Buehrle pitched seven innings to win his fourth straight and the Blue Jays beat the Red Sox.
Red Sox starter Jake Peavy (9-5) allowed two runs and five hits in six-plus innings. He walked none and struck out four.
TWINS 4, WHITE SOX 3
MINNEAPOLIS -- Chris Herrmann's pinch-hit single in the bottom of the ninth scored pinch-runner Doug Bernier and lifted Minnesota to a victory over the White Sox.
Trevor Plouffe hit a solo homer and Mike Pelfrey gave up three runs and struck out four in 61/3 innings for the Twins.
Jared Burton (2-6) pitched the ninth for the win.
CARDINALS 6, PIRATES 5, 12 INN.
ST. LOUIS -- Matt Carpenter had four hits and scored the winning run on Matt Holliday's single in the 12th inning, helping the St. Louis Cardinals beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 6-5 on Thursday for their second extra-inning triumph over the NL Central leaders in three days.
Rookie Kevin Siegrist (1-1), St. Louis' seventh pitcher, struck out two in a perfect 12th against the heart of the order.
GIANTS 4, NATIONALS 3
WASHINGTON -- Pinch-hitter Hector Sanchez hit a three-run homer with two outs in the ninth inning, helping San Francisco get the win.
Down to his last strike, Sanchez connected off closer Rafael Soriano (2-3) on a full-count pitch. The drive landed just inside the right-field foul pole in the second deck.
Sergio Romo got three outs for his 29th save. Javier Lopez (2-2) pitched 12/3 scoreless innings of relief for the win.
Ian Desmond doubled home two runs and Jayson Werth added two hits for the Nationals.
METS 4, PADRES 1
SAN DIEGO -- Marlon Byrd lined a two-out double over a hesitant right-fielder Chris Denorfia's head in the eighth inning, Mets outfielders saved two runs with outstanding plays and New York snapped a three-game skid by beating San Diego.
Zack Wheeler struck out a career-high 12 for New York. Eric Young Jr. saved a homer by leaping above the wall and knocking the ball back onto the field in the third inning. Center fielder Juan Lagares then threw out a runner at home plate in the fifth.
Scott Atchison (3-1) got the victory by pitching a scoreless seventh inning.