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Twins find offense in win over Royals

The SportsXchange

MINNEAPOLIS -- Offensively challenged for much of June, the Minnesota Twins erupted as the calendar flipped to July.

The Twins scored 10 runs and pounded out 15 hits Tuesday in a 10-2 win over the Kansas City Royals at Target Field.

Shortstop Eduardo Nunez led the offensive charge for the Twins with three hits, including a solo home run to lead off the sixth and an RBI single in the fourth. Designated hitter Kendrys Morales, catcher Kurt Suzuki and left fielder Chris Parmelee also had multi-hit games for the Twins, who had lost six of seven entering play Tuesday. Every Twins starter had at least one hit, and only Josh Willingham, who entered the game in the fifth inning, was held off the board.

"The offense came alive," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "A lot of good things happened, Nunez and Parmelee at the top. Ricky [Nolasco] did a nice job battling early. I've been saying we needed to score some runs to take some pressure off those guys and tonight we did that."

Right-hander Nolasco picked up the victory, tossing six innings of one-run ball, allowing eight hits, walking none and striking out three while improving to 5-6.

Royals righty James Shields allowed at least four runs in his third straight start, giving up five runs (four earned) over five innings and dropping to 8-4.

Up by four runs after five innings, the Twins put the game away with a marathon sixth inning, batting around to score five times and take a nine-run lead. Nunez hit his third homer of the year to start the barrage, and the Twins took advantage of a fielding error by second baseman Omar Infante, also stringing together four hits. Suzuki drew a bases-loaded walk and center fielder Sam Fuld drove in two with a two-out single.

Royals reliever Michael Mariot was charged with five runs in one-third of an inning, although only two were earned. He gave up three hits and walked two. Francisley Bueno pitched the final 2 2/3 innings, doing yeoman's work out of the bullpen ahead of the series finale Wednesday afternoon.

"Mariot really struggled to throw strikes," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "Bueno did a phenomenal job not making us use [Aaron] Crow, making us use [Kelvin] Herrera in that situation. He went above the call of duty."

The Twins also posted a crooked number in the fourth, taking advantage of a Royals miscue. After back-to-back singles and a walk loaded the bases, Nunez hit a soft bloop toward first that was fielded by first baseman Eric Hosmer, who faked a throw home before deciding to get the out at first. But Shields didn't cover the bag and everyone was safe while allowing a run to score. First baseman Joe Mauer, who had struck out swinging in each of his first two at-bats, followed with a double down the left-field line to drive in two more.

Mauer appeared hurt on the play but remained in the game until the end of the inning before being lifted. He was diagnosed with a right oblique strain and will be re-evaluated on Wednesday.

"I've been battling that area for about a week now," Mauer said. "I've been stiff, making it loose and everything has been fine, but today, just on that one swing, ball down the line, it felt like someone hit me pretty hard right there."

After getting the support he needed in the fourth, Nolasco worked out of a two-on, one-out jam in the fifth before finishing on a high note with his second 1-2-3 inning in the sixth. The quality start was Nolasco's first since a May 30 outing against the New York Yankees and his first victory since June 4 against the Milwaukee Brewers.

"Just try to not do too much," Nolasco said. "It's always nice to get a ton of runs. The offense did a great job scoring runs and making my job a little easier."

For Shields, Monday's outing was his shortest of the season. Despite his recent struggles, the loss was his first since a rough outing May 2 against the Detroit Tigers in which he allowed eight runs in 6 1/3 innings of work.

"I have good bullpen sessions, then I go out there and I feel really good. Tonight, I thought I actually made some really good pitches. They found a lot of holes today," Shields said. "It's definitely frustrating that I'm not getting outs. I'm letting my team down and not getting my job done."

Hosmer had four hits -- all singles -- and Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas had an RBI single in the second inning, which briefly tied the score.

NOTES: Minnesota 2B Brian Dozier and LF Josh Willingham were not in the starting lineup, but both were fine, according to manager Ron Gardenhire. The skipper said he simply wanted to start as many lefties as possible against Kansas City RHP James Shields. Willingham entered the game in the fifth inning when Joe Mauer left with an oblique injury. ... Royals OF Nori Aoki, on the 15-day disabled list with a strained groin, fielded fly balls on the field before the game. Aoki is eligible to be activated July 6, but manager Ned Yost said he doesn't expect Aoki to return during the current nine-game road trip. ... Royals OF Raul Ibanez made his first start with the team since signing Monday. He hit .157 with three homers and 21 RBIs in 51 games with the Los Angeles Angels earlier this season.
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