DETROIT (AP) — In hot pursuit of a playoff spot, the Detroit Tigers can't afford to lose slugger Miguel Cabrera.

Especially not with so many other important pieces already injured.

Cabrera strained his left biceps in a first-inning collision with Cheslor Cuthbert at first base, but batted twice before leaving Detroit's 3-1 loss to the Kansas City Royals on Monday night.

Tigers manager Brad Ausmus didn't think the injury was serious.

"We'll wait and see how he feels tomorrow," Ausmus said. "But I wouldn't be surprised if he tells me he's fine and he wants to play."

The second-place Tigers need Cabrera to return quickly. They are missing center fielder Cameron Maybin, third baseman Nick Castellanos and shortstop Jose Iglesias, along with starting pitchers Jordan Zimmermann and Mike Pelfrey.

"Injuries are a part of the game, and we're not going to bury our faces in our sand," Ausmus said. "We can't do anything but come back tomorrow."

Detroit also had to go into the late innings of a close game without two of its three back-end relievers. Shane Greene has a strained back and Justin Wilson is dealing with a sore elbow.

"We have a little bit of a MASH unit down there," Ausmus said. "We're being cautious with Greenie, and Justin Wilson needed another day, so we went with Alex Wilson and (Bruce) Rondon."

It didn't matter much, as the short-handed Tigers never got much going against Kennedy. He held them to one run on five hits and a walk in 6 2/3 innings to win for the first time since July 26.

J.D. Martinez hit a solo homer in the seventh, but that was Kennedy's only costly mistake.

"I didn't strike a lot of guys out tonight, but I was getting weak contact," Kennedy said. "Against a team like Detroit, you'll take that."

Daniel Norris (1-1) took the loss, allowing two runs — one earned — in 5 1/3 innings. He gave up six hits and walked four while striking out one. He also made the error that led to the unearned run.

"That's probably the worst I've felt on the mound in a long time, at least in terms of mechanics," Norris said. "You've got to grind things out and last as long as you can, and I just hoped I would figure something out along the way."

Paulo Orlando started the game with a four-pitch walk, then went to third when Norris threw away Cuthbert's infield single, leading to the collision with Cabrera as he reached for the ball. With one out, Eric Hosmer hit a line drive to deep left-center, and though Tyler Collins ran it down, Orlando scored easily on the sacrifice fly.

Kansas City added to the lead in the sixth. With one out, Alex Gordon doubled and went to third on Norris' wild pitch. After a walk to Alcides Escobar put runners at the corners, Wilson came in to pitch and Raul Mondesi laid down a safety squeeze.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who had replaced Cabrera at first base, fielded the bunt cleanly but hesitated before making a play, giving Mondesi an RBI single.

"I don't think that's a routine play, and Salty isn't fully familiar with that position," Ausmus said. "I think he had a chance at Gordon at the plate, but with Mondesi's speed, it was going to be tough to stop and then get him at first."

Martinez made it 2-1 with a homer in the seventh — his second in two days and the 101st of his career. Casey McGehee singled with two outs, bringing Peter Moylan out of the Royals' bullpen.

James McCann hit an infield single, but pinch-hitter Mike Aviles popped out to end the inning.

The Royals added an insurance run in the ninth on Lorenzo Cain's RBI single off Blaine Hardy.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Pelfrey, sidelined since Aug. 1 with a back strain, will not be activated from the DL when he becomes eligible on Tuesday. He has only progressed as far as throwing on the side, but he's planning on a tougher workout Friday. Once he can throw off a mound, Pelfrey is expected to make at least one rehab start before returning to the rotation.

EJECTION

The Tigers, already short-handed after Cabrera's injury, lost Collins in the bottom of the eighth when he was ejected by plate umpire Dan Iassogna for arguing a called third strike. Andrew Romine, the last position player available, replaced Collins in center field for the ninth.

UP NEXT

The teams continue their three-game series Tuesday, with aces Danny Duffy (9-1, 2.82 ERA) and Justin Verlander (12-6, 3.42) squaring off. Verlander is 22-8 with a 3.21 ERA in 40 career starts against the Royals, giving him the most wins against Kansas City of any active pitcher.