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Kansas City, Mo. — Joakim Soria warmed up several times in Saturday's 3-2 victory, but it was Joe Nathan upon whom manager Brad Ausmus called to close it out in the ninth.

Despite allowing two singles and facing a second-and-third jam with two outs, Nathan got the final out on a grounder to first for his 33rd save.

That's after Joba Chamberlain allowed a run in the eighth.

"We got it done," Ausmus said. "I thought Joba looked real strong, and out of the gate I thought Joe did, too, but then the two fastest guys on their team got on base (Jarrod Dyson, Alcides Escobar) — which is always a little bit nerve-wracking."

When asked about the trouble Nathan ran into, Ausmus said, "You'd love it if your closer always got three straight outs on three straight pitches. But the nature of being a closer is that you are in danger when you take the ball.

"The game is already on the line."

Of Soria warming up in the ninth while Nathan still was on the mound, Ausmus didn't over-explain the situation.

"That was if I wanted him in the game," he said.

Getting better

Alex Avila took a step forward Saturday in his recovery from the disorientation he's been experiencing recently, and because of which he's missed the last five games.

"He didn't really do any tracking (of the ball) in batting practice," said Ausmus, "but he did everything else. Soft toss, tee work, ran — and he was good. He took a positive step. So he'll probably take batting practice (on Sunday) to see if he can track the ball and still be OK"

Would that be the last hurdle for him?

"Pretty much," Ausmus said. "But he has to come in fine the next day, obviously."

Collins steps up

He didn't try to muscle the ball. He just hit it up the middle> but it was Tyler Collins' pinch-hit single In the seventh that put the Tigers in the lead for good Saturday.

Collins was hitting for catcher Bryan Holaday, with two outs and two on.

But why Collins in that spot, when he had never faced James Shields?

"I've always liked him," Ausmus said. "We left Lakeland with him. I just think that of all the left-hand hitters we have, in terms of needing to produce a run, he's probably the best suited for it."

Sunday's game

First pitch: 2:10 p.m. Kauffman Stadium, Kansas City, Mo.

TV/radio: FSD, TBS/1270

Scouting report: RHP Rick Porcello (15-11, 3.19), Tigers — Wins have slowed down, he's just 3-6 since July 22, but his 2.87 ERA since then shows he's still pitching effectively. RHP Jeremy Guthrie (11-11, 4.35), Royals — Bounced back with a fine performance while beating Boston in last start after atrocious outing in Detroit (eight runs on 10 hits in 2.2 innings).

tom.gage@detroitnews.com

twitter.com/Tom_Gage

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