KANSAS CITY, Missouri — Justin Verlander may not be pitching like he did in 2011, when he won the AL Cy Young and MVP awards.
But he's been plenty good for Detroit over the last month.
The Tigers, who had lost nine of 10 to drop into last place in the AL Central, snapped a four-game losing streak.
Verlander (3-6) limited the Royals to seven hits and four runs, two unearned, over 6 2-3 innings. He has a 0.76 ERA in his past five starts and the Tigers' lone two victories since Aug. 19, including a one-hit shutout of the Angels in his previous outing.
"It wasn't spectacular, but it's nice to get the win for the team," Verlander said. "My fastball location was really good. When other pitches aren't working as well, fastball location gets you out of trouble."
Verlander's velocity picked up as the game went along. He was throwing 97 mph in his final inning, including 10 straight pitches of 95-plus.
"I'm aware of it," Verlander said.
The last time Verlander faced the Royals was Aug. 4, when he allowed five runs and 10 hits over seven innings. It was his only rough start in his past eight.
"Obviously we adjusted our game plan to have more success," catcher James McCann said.
Johnny Cueto (2-4), who the Royals acquired in a July 26 trade with Cincinnati, allowed four runs on nine hits over six innings. Cueto has given up 38 hits in his past four starts, the most hits he has allowed in his career over a four-start span. He has allowed 17 runs in 17 innings in losing his past three starts.
"This is obviously part of the game," Cueto said with coach Pedro Grifol as his interpreter. "Every player has a streak like this. I'm not concerned because I'm well aware that this is going to turn around and I'm going to help this team."
"He just wasn't real sharp the first three innings," Royals manager Ned Yost said.
Miguel Almonte gave up a two-run, seventh-inning homer to Kinsler in his major league debut. Kinsler also hit a two-out RBI single in the fourth.
Kendrys Morales homered in the fourth off Verlander. Alex Gordon, who missed 48 games with a groin injury, drove in a run with a sacrifice fly in the second. Omar Infante and Alcides Escobar had RBIs in the seventh.
The Royals cut the lead to one run in the eighth on a Salvador Perez single.
Bruce Rondon worked a scoreless ninth for his third save in four opportunities.
Tigers: LHP Daniel Norris (right oblique strain) made 60 throws from flat ground.
Royals: LF Gordon was reinstated after being out eight weeks with a strained left groin. ... RHP Kelvin Herrera and RF Alex Rios have the chickenpox and likely will miss a minimum of two weeks. ... 3B Mike Moustakas (pulled hamstring) did not start, but grounded out as a pinch hitter in the eighth.
Tigers: LHP Randy Wolf makes his third start after losing his first two despite a 2.57 ERA.
Royals: Newly acquired OF Jonny Gomes will likely start Wednesday. He is 13 for 23 (.522) with two home runs off Wolf.