KANSAS CITY -- Through the opening 10 games, Tigers manager Jim Leyland gave Miguel Cabrera high marks for his defensive work at third base.

Cabrera went into Tuesday's game against the Royals having committed one error. The Tigers are second among American League clubs with a .994 fielding percentage.

"He has done a great job," Leyland said. "There were four or five different types of plays [Monday at third base] and he made every single one of them. He's my third baseman, and I love him to death."

While acknowledging that Cabrera is not going to be as good a defensive third baseman as Brandon Inge, Leyland likes Cabrera's soft hands and strong arm.

"I mean, a great arm," Leyland said. "It doesn't look like it because he is so big and he's effortless. But if you were over there catching his throw, you would realize the velocity. He just flicks it."

Inge finding his old hitting form

KANSAS CITY -- No more worrying about strikeouts. No more cutting down the swing or trying to massage the ball the other way. Brandon Inge claims he's back to his old way of hitting, which means trying to terrorize the baseball.

"I'm trying to pound it," Inge said. "What that does is put you in more of an aggressive state of mind."

Inge, who pushed himself through a rigorous strength program in the offseason, delivered the big blow Monday night with a two-run homer to right-center that lifted the Tigers to a 3-2 win over Kansas City. It was a flashback to the Inge who hit 27 homers in 2006 and 2009.

"Home runs, driving the ball into the gap ... that's the style of hitter I've always been," Inge said. "For some reason, in the last couple of years, I felt like I went to hitting the ball the other way and trying to cut down on strikeouts."

Inge, who hit .197 with three homers in 102 games last year, emphasizes that he's just interested in contributing to the ballclub and not on a mission to prove anything to his doubters.

"If people doubt me ... it means I must be on the radar screen," Inge said. "People are going to say what they want. The people I really care about are the 24 other guys on this team. I just want the opportunity to redeem myself."

Dirks gets the start against lefty Chen

KANSAS CITY -- Tigers manager Jim Leyland went with the unconventional move on Tuesday, penciling in left-handed-hitting Andy Dirks as his designated hitter against Royals left-hander Bruce Chen.

Leyland could have gone with a right-handed DH, such as Brandon Inge, who hit the game-winning homer on Monday. Or he could have gone with righty Jhonny Peralta, who opened the Kansas City series with a 3-for-4 performance that included two doubles. But Inge was 1-for-23 lifetime against Chen and Peralta was 2-for-18.

And Dirks rewarded Leyland's hunch, delivering a key single to start the eighth-inning rally and scoring the go-ahead run in a 3-1 victory over the Royals.

"I just think my lefties have a better chance against Chen," Leyland said. "I've been thinking about this for days. I had two guys who won the game for us [Monday] in Peralta and Inge. I think lefties have a better shot.

"To me, that's managing. If I didn't do what my gut told me tonight, I would just be pacifying the public. That's not the way I manage. Win, lose or draw in this game tonight, I know this is the best way to go."

Dirks, who batted No. 9 in the order, came in 1-for-2 against Chen.