KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Ervin Santana could be traded before the end of the month, and his superb effort Friday might make some contenders interested.
Santana allowed two singles in 7 1-3 innings and the Kansas City Royals beat the Detroit Tigers 1-0 on Friday night to snap a five-game losing streak. The third-place Royals are seven games behind the first-place Tigers.
Santana, who can be a free agent after the season and has been widely speculated to be traded before the July 31 deadline without a player clearing waivers, did not allow a runner to reach second base. He walked one and struck out six.
"Everything was working, especially my location," Santana said. "Everything was down."
Santana (6-6), who was coming off his worst outing of the season, when he allowed eight runs on 10 hits in a July 11 loss at Cleveland, retired the first 10 Tigers before Torii Hunter's one-out single in the fourth.
"That club over there has the best 2-3-4-5-6 hitters in baseball, I feel," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "That shows how you how good Santana was."
Kelvin Herrera, who was just recalled from Triple-A Omaha, replaced Santana in the eighth after he walked Jhonny Peralta with one out. Herrera retired Andy Dirks on a grounder and struck out Alex Avila looking.
"A very good outing," Yost said of Herrera.
Greg Holland worked a flawless ninth for his 23rd save in 25 opportunities, striking out one. He has been perfect in his past 16 save chances.
"Santana was unbelievable," Holland said. "I watched the first three innings in here (clubhouse) on TV and I thought he had a chance to throw a no-hitter."
Alex Gordon led off the Royals' first with a single to right, stole second with one out and scored on Billy Butler's ground-ball single to centre.
That was the only run Tigers right-hander Anibal Sanchez (7-7) would allow in six innings, but that was one too many.
"I did not know that was going to be enough," Butler said. "It was a pitcher's duel, old-fashioned."
Sanchez, who was making his third start since coming off the disabled list with a shoulder strain, left after 101 pitches, allowing four singles, walking five and striking out three.
"My command today wasn't the best," Sanchez said. "A lot of times I was behind. I just tried to throw my best pitch. I felt good, I felt healthy. I was strong all day long. I finished my game strong.
"I kept the score right there (after the first-inning run). You have to give them credit sometimes. Santana threw a good ballgame."
The Royals loaded the bases with two outs in the sixth on Butler's single and walks to Mike Moustakas and David Lough, but failed to score as Alcides Escobar struck out to end the inning.
The Royals are 4-2 against the American League Central Division-leading Tigers, with five of the games decided by two or less runs.
"Both teams hit the ball better than the results showed," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "It was a very good game. Santana pitched good and we swung the bats good, but didn't get much result. We couldn't get some balls to fall. But they earned it."
The Tigers were shut out for the seventh time this season.
Notes: 2B Chris Getz, who was recalled after hitting .313 in 14 games with Triple-A Omaha, started Friday. He went 0 for 2 with a walk and a strikeout. ... Tigers IF Omar Infante, who went on the disabled list July 4, will link up with the club Saturday for an evaluation of his sprained left ankle. He has been rehabbing at the Tigers' facility in Lakeland, Fla. . ... RHP Justin Verlander, who starts Saturday, has a 0.64 ERA in two games this season against the Royals, but no decisions. The Royals will counter with RHP Jeremy Guthrie, who is 5-2 in seven home starts this season. . The Tigers dropped to 9-12 in one-run games. . Butler collected his 23rd multi-hit game.