KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Kansas City Royals' early trend this season is to fall behind early and then rally to win.
That was the case again Monday afternoon in a 3-1 victory over the Minnesota Twins in the Royals' home opener, as Kansas City scored all of its runs in the eighth inning.
"You don't want to wait until the eighth inning," said Royals designated hitter Billy Butler, who delivered a run-scoring single. "You don't want to get into the habit of that."
The Royals have scored only three runs in the first four innings of their seven games. They've piled up 30 runs from the fifth inning on.
Ervin Santana gave the Royals the starting pitching they needed, while Alex Gordon, Alcides Escobar and Butler provided RBI hits in the eighth inning as the Royals won their first home opener since 2008, when they beat the New York Yankees 5-2.
It appeared Santana might be the losing pitcher, even though he limited the Twins to one run and eight singles in eight innings. He struck out seven and walked one. Half of the Twins' hit against him came in the first inning, when Ryan Doumit knocked in Minnesota's lone run.
"Santana was lights out," said teammate Lorenzo Cain, who led off the eighth with a double, the first extra-base hit of the game. "He was very effective, kept it close for us."
The Royals' offense did little with Twins starter Kevin Correia through the first seven innings -- no runs and five singles.
"Correia did a good job getting us to hit on top of the ball and hitting ground balls," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "He got us to hit into two double plays by getting us to hit the top of the ball. In the eighth, he got some pitches up and we were able to get some runs."
After Cain's double, Chris Getz moved the runner over with a sacrifice bunt. Gordon brought home Cain with a line-drive single to right. Escobar's double to right brought home Gordon with the go-ahead run and finished Correia. Jared Burton came in and gave up a run-scoring single to Butler.
"These guys just keep plugging away," Yost said. "They have the confidence that they're going to hit. After Gordon drove in the run, we were going to go with it (a hit-and-run) on the first pitch and take advantage of the confusion and excitement. We were going to start the merry-go-round right then. Escobar got a pitch up, and he drove it."
Aaron Crow worked around a one-out walk in the ninth to pick up the save. He joins Greg Holland and Kelvin Herrera as pitchers with saves in the Royals' first seven games.
"Your starter goes into the eighth without giving up a run," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "He had a five-hit shutout. He got one pitch up, and it got to the gap (Cain's double). They got a big hit there. The hit-and-run (by Escobar) was incredible. That ball was almost over his head. That's a helluva job by Escobar to get the bat on the ball.
"If we hit the cut-off guy, I think we have a shot at getting (Gordon) at the plate. (We needed) a little execution on our part. Correia was in line to finish a ballgame it looked like. It just didn't work out. But he gave up (three) runs. That's a helluva effort."
Joe Mauer's first-inning single was his 1,277th career hit, moving him past Gary Gaetti and into sixth place on the Twins' all-time list. Mauer wound up scoring on Doumit's single to shallow left with two outs. It was the first time this season the Twins scored first.
The Twins ran themselves out of a potential bigger inning when Trevor Plouffe singled for the fourth hit of the inning. Justin Morneau stopped at third base, but Doumit rounded second base too far and was thrown out by catcher Salvador Perez trying to get back to the bag.
"I just didn't pick up the third base coach," Doumit said. "We had a guy at second base. I didn't take into consideration that he wouldn't score. It was my fault. There's no excuse for it. You're taught to pick up the third base coach as you're rounding second, and I didn't. I paid for it."
NOTES: The Royals have not committed an error in their first seven games. ... Right-hander Jeremy Guthrie, who starts Tuesday against the Twins, celebrated his 34th birthday Monday. ... The Royals improved to 22-23 in home openers. ... Kansas City has played eight of its 45 home openers against the Twins. ... Jamie Splittorff, the son of the late Paul Splittorff, who holds the Royals' record with 166 career victories, threw out the ceremonial first pitch. Paul Splittorff threw the first-ever pitch at Kauffman Stadium on April 10, 1973, a 12-1 rout of the Texas Rangers. ... Tate Stevens, who is from the Kansas City suburb of Belton, Mo., and won the "The X Factor" in 2012, sang the national anthem.