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Twins end home skid with big win

The SportsXchange

MINNEAPOLIS -- Perhaps the Minnesota Twins should ask to start every inning with two outs when they are batting.

One of baseball's best hitting teams with two down, Twins bats bludgeoned Kansas City Royals pitching Friday -- often with two away -- in a 10-1 rout of the Royals at Target Field.

The win was Minnesota's first at home this season and snapped a nine-game losing streak in downtown Minneapolis dating back to last season.

Twins third baseman Trevor Plouffe finished the night 3-for-4 with an RBI, a walk and two runs scored. It was Plouffe's fourth multi-hit game this season and second three-hit game. He's hitting .375.

Right fielder Chris Colabello was 2-for-3 with three RBIs for Minnesota.

Twins starter Kyle Gibson pitched 6 1/3 innings of five-hit ball, allowing one run and four walks while striking out three in becoming the first Twins starter in 10 games this season to pitch into the seventh inning. Gibson improved to 2-0.

"My change-up has been a big pitch for me this year. It's really helped keep hitters off my fastball," Gibson said. "Full team effort. It makes things a whole lot easier when you have a six-run cushion."

The only run Gibson yielded came in the top of the first.

The Twins erased that early one-run deficit by stringing together three straight two-out hits in the bottom of the first. Plouffe doubled and scored on Colabello's single up the middle. Left fielder Jason Kubel followed with a triple of the wall in right, giving Minnesota a 2-1 lead.

A leadoff homer in the fourth by Twins designated hitter Josmil Pinto made it 3-1 and Minnesota put its next two hitters on before a fly out and a line out threatened to short-circuit the inning. But an RBI single by first baseman Joe Mauer, a wild pitch and a two-run double by Colabello put the game out of reach at 7-1.

Minnesota raised its average to .281 with two outs - fourth best in all of baseball.

"Two outs, backs are against the wall, it's time to grind," Colabello said. "We've had a lot of grind and compete at-bats so far. You get two-out hits and drive in some runs, that's a real dagger to the other team."

The five-run fourth was the end of the line for Royals starter Bruce Chen, who was lifted after Mauer's single. He pitched 3 2/3 innings and was tagged for six runs on seven hits. He walked two and struck out three, dropping to 0-1 this season.

"Just wasn't sharp," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "And when he isn't sharp, the result generally is high pitch counts. We had high pitch counts all night, I think we were averaging 25 pitches an inning. If you do that, you're going to get the result that we got."

"I was falling behind the hitters a lot," Chen said. "I take a lot of pride in going out there and giving my team a chance to win. Tonight, I didn't do that."

Catcher Kurt Suzuki drove in two runs with a double in the seventh and Plouffe followed with his third hit of the night, an RBI single in the eighth to extend the lead to 10-1.

NOTES: Twins manager Ron Gardenhire will miss the next two games to attend the funeral of Michael Hirschbeck, the son of long-time major league umpire John Hirschbeck. Bench coach Terry Steinbach will manage the team in his absence. ... The Royals announced the signing of RHP Kameron Loe to a minor-league contract. Loe spent time with the Atlanta Braves, Chicago Cubs and Seattle Mariners last season. ... The Twins are expected to place OF Josh Willingham (bruised left hand/wrist) on the 15-day disabled list prior to the game Saturday. The club is expected to call RHP Michael Tonkin from Triple-A Rochester. ... Royals RHP Michael Mariot made his major league debut Friday, entering the game in the sixth inning. Mariot was called up from Triple-A Omaha on Monday. ... The Twins scored 10 runs in a game for the third time in 10 games this season. They scored 10 runs in a game six times all of last season. ... The victory snapped a nine-game losing streak for the Twins at Target Field, dating back to last season.
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