By ALAN FERGUSON
(AP) -- The Detroit Tigers have used a pair of strong starting pitching performances to record two wins over the Kansas City Royals.
Max Scherzer will try to provide another such outing, earn his first victory of the season and lead the Tigers to their first series sweep in Kansas City in nearly four years Wednesday night.
After salvaging the finale of a three-game series in Chicago, Detroit (8-3) got another splendid performance from ace Justin Verlander, who recorded a complete-game victory in a 3-2 win Monday.
Rookie Drew Smyly followed Tuesday by allowing one unearned run over six innings. He failed to earn his first major league win, but Miguel Cabrera broke out of an 0-for-22 slump by going 2 for 4 and hitting the tiebreaking single in the eighth inning of the Tigers' 3-1 victory.
"Cabrera's going to hit," manager Jim Leyland said. "The guy is a (.316 career) major league hitter."
Scherzer (0-1, 10.38 ERA) will try to put a disastrous season debut further in the past. The right-hander was tagged for seven runs over 2 2-3 innings April 8 but avoided the loss as Detroit rallied for a 13-12 win over Boston.
Scherzer couldn't avoid a defeat, though, in a 5-2 loss to the Chicago White Sox on Friday despite an improved performance in which he gave up three runs and struck out 11 over six innings.
"The results were better. I didn't feel like I was as bad as after my first start," Scherzer said. "I made a few adjustments after that and I was able to throw the ball pretty well (Friday). Unfortunately, I made a couple mistakes and I paid for it."
Scherzer gave up two runs over five innings the last time he faced the Royals (3-8), a 6-3 Tigers victory Sept. 21 at Kaufman Stadium in which he didn't get a decision. He will try to at least duplicate that outing to lead Detroit to its first sweep in Kansas City since July 21-23, 2008.
The Royals will counter with Jonathan Sanchez (1-0, 8.22), who returns on short rest after a short outing. The left-hander allowed five runs in 2 2-3 innings Saturday but escaped without a decision in an 11-9 defeat to Cleveland.
Sanchez is starting in place of Luke Hochevar, who is not expected to pitch again until Friday after being hit in the ankle with a line drive during Friday's loss to the Indians.
"A lot of times if you bring a guy back early, it helps tighten his command up," manager Ned Yost told the Royals' official website. "We had a couple of different options. We could pitch Hoch on Wednesday or we could totally have him miss a start. Or bump Sanchez up to Wednesday, hopefully tighten his command up and give Hoch an extra day and a half before he has to start again."
Sanchez will try to help Kansas City avoid its first seven-game skid since May 5-12, 2010. Sanchez lost his only start against Detroit on June 17, 2008, while with San Francisco.
Updated April 18, 2012