Kyle Lohse has followed up his worst stretch of the season with his best.
The 24-year-old right-hander looks to win his fourth straight start as the Minnesota Twins take on the AL Central-leading Kansas City Royals in the middle game of their important weekend series at The Metrodome.
Lohse opened the season 6-4 with a 2.91 ERA over his first 13 starts before hitting the worst skid of his career. He went 0-5 with a 10.95 ERA in eight starts from mid-June through the end of July, not lasting longer than five innings in any of those outings.
However, Lohse has rebounded admirably.
He is 3-0 with a 3.60 ERA in August, including Monday’s 5-3 win over the Cleveland Indians. Lohse pitched into the ninth, allowing three runs and seven hits over eight innings, striking out four and walking two.
“It’s just a matter of not trying to do too much,” Lohse said of his newfound approach. “Everyone was going out there trying to throw the perfect game.”
The third-place Twins pulled within three games of the Royals with Friday’s 9-2 rout. Minnesota, which has outscored Kansas City 77-64 this season, snapped a three-game losing streak.
Kenny Rogers gave up only two singles and one unearned run in eight superb innings, and Torii Hunter had a three-run home run. Corey Koskie and Jacque Jones each had three hits for the Twins, who also gained a game on the second-place Chicago White Sox.
Chicago was beaten 11-5 Friday by the Texas Rangers.
Mendy Lopez had two of Kansas City’s five hits. The Royals, who have been in first place 46 of the last 48 days, have dropped two of three.
STANDINGS: Twins - 3rd place, 3 GB, AL Central. Royals - 1st place, AL Central.
TWINS PROBABLE STARTER: Lohse (9-9, 4.97 ERA). Lohse is 1-1 with a 4.50 ERA in five career starts against the Royals.
ROYALS PROBABLE STARTER: Runelvys Hernandez (7-4, 3.87 ERA). Hernandez is 3-1 with a 7.57 ERA over his last four starts, including Sunday’s 7-3 win over Tampa Bay. The 25-year-old right-hander allowed three runs and five hits over seven innings, striking out five and walking two. Hernandez is 1-1 with a 5.40 ERA in two career starts against Minnesota.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Twins - Jones, .311 avg.; Hunter, 22 HRs and 79 RBIs; Shannon Stewart, 66 runs; Cristian Guzman, 13 SBs. Royals - Raul Ibanez, .296 avg.; Carlos Beltran, 18 HRs and 30 SBs; Ibanez and Beltran, 71 RBIs; Ibanez, 70 runs.
SEASON SERIES: Royals, 8-4.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Twins - 2B Luis Rivas led off the sixth with a home run. Nine of his 16 career homers have come against Kansas City. … 1B Doug Mientkiewicz took a few swings in the batting cage Friday, but his wrist was still too sore to let him play. Mientkiewicz, who also sat out Thursday’s game, will likely be in the starting lineup Saturday. … RHP James Baldwin cleared waivers Friday and was sent outright to Triple-A Rochester of the International League. The Twins recalled RHP Grant Balfour from the Red Wings. Baldwin has 72 hours to accept the assignment. Royals - CF Beltran was held out of the lineup again Friday with a sore right elbow. Beltran was available to pinch-hit and may be ready to play Saturday. … The Royals are 40-1 when holding opponents to 3 runs or fewer this season and are 29-0 when holding opponents to 2 runs or less. … RHP Jose Lima will probably make his next scheduled start, Monday at New York. Lima, who is 7-0 since the Royals signed him from the Newark Bears of the Atlantic League, went on the DL on Aug. 2 with a strained groin.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Twins - 29-30 on the road; Royals - 33-29 at home.
INJURIES: Twins - 1B Mientkiewicz (wrist), day-to-day; OF Lew Ford (arm), 15-day DL; RHP Mike Fetters (hamstring), 60-day DL; LHP Eric Milton (elbow), 60-day DL. Royals - CF Beltran (elbow), day-to-day; OF Michael Tucker (leg), 15-day DL; RHP Lima (groin), 15-day DL; RHP Kyle Snyder (shoulder), 15-day DL; RHP Miguel Asencio (elbow), 60-day DL.