KANSAS CITY -- Seven isn't much of a lucky number for the Royals.
Wednesday's 4-3 loss to the Detroit Tigers stretched the Royals' losing streak to seven games, and the team remains winless in its home ballpark this season.
For the third straight night, the Royals were close to picking up the elusive drought-busting win. Starter Jonathan Sanchez handed the bullpen a one-run lead when he exited after five innings, but relievers allowed two Detroit runs to score.
With Prince Fielder batting in the seventh, Jose Mijares threw a wild pitch, allowing Gerald Laird to scamper down the third-base line to tie the score at 3-3. A couple of pitches later, Fielder beat a defensive shift with a grounder up the middle that brought home Miguel Cabrera to give the Tigers a 4-3 lead.
"I see the hole over there," Fielder said. "I'm trying to learn from Miguel how to go that way. I'm trying mostly to stay up the middle, but I know if I'm a little late I've got a lot of space over there."
After the game, Royals manager Ned Yost said his decision to not walk Fielder in the seventh was "dumb."
"It was just pure stupidity on my part," Yost said. "Plain and simple, that's what it was. I started to over-think the situation. I know how aggressive Prince can be with runners in scoring position. If we could expand a little bit, we might get him to chase, hit into the shift. But that was just a dumb decision on my part. I should've just walked him as soon as the situation presented itself after the wild pitch."
The Royals had a chance to come back in the late innings. In both the eighth and ninth, the Royals had two runners on with just one out, but both times the inning ended with a double-play ball.
Offense was at a premium all series long, and Wednesday was no exception, with both starters pitching well. Detroit starter Max Scherzer, who earned the victory, gave up three runs over six innings. Sanchez bounced back from a 2 2/3-inning performance in his last outing against Cleveland, surrendering just two runs on four hits in five innings.
"He threw pretty good," Royals catcher Humberto Quintero said. "His fastball was off the plate a little bit, but all his breaking balls he threw for strikes."
The Royals led throughout the middle innings, with the big hit coming on Alcides Escobar's line-drive, two-run home run in the third inning. It was just the 10th home run of Escobar's career, and it gave the Royals a 2-1 lead.
"I was looking for pretty good contact, and I was trying to make sure that I hit the ball good," Escobar said, with teammate Brayan Pena translating from Spanish. "And that happened. When I saw the baseball going, going, going, I felt very good about it."
The next inning, Quintero doubled home Billy Butler to make it 3-1.
Fielder's game-winning hit in the seventh was the first baseman's second RBI of the game. He cut the Royals' lead to 3-2 in the fifth inning with a double to bring home Cabrera. Detroit started the scoring in the second inning with a Jhonny Peralta RBI single.
The Royals' seventh inning featured no scoring, but there was yet another bench-clearing moment on the field at Kauffman Stadium. Quintero was hit with a Scherzer pitch and slammed his bat down. Catcher Laird took offense, and soon the dugouts were empty. Tensions quickly subsided, and Quintero took his spot at first base.
"I think it's my fault because I threw the bat too close to him," Quintero said. "That's why he got mad. Like I say, nothing personal."
The on-field incident was the third of this homestand for the Royals. Benches cleared twice in Saturday's game against the Indians.
Thursday, the Royals will have a day off, and first baseman Eric Hosmer said the off-day couldn't come at a better time.
"We've came in here, and we've had some tough losses," Hosmer said. "We were making it close in the ninth there. Those are tough losses for us to take. For the off day, just to clear our minds and not think about baseball for a day, I think will do this team a world of good right now."
Never before in franchise history had the Royals lost their first six home games. But, there is at least one streak that is a positive for them.
Butler, who celebrated his 26th birthday Wednesday, gave himself a good birthday gift. His two-hit game extended his hitting streak to eight games.
Butler is one of the few hot-hitting Royals, but Yost said he expects the wins to start coming soon.
"It's just a short matter of time before all these guys are putting some runs on the board," Yost said.
Vinnie Duber is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.