MINNEAPOLIS -- The Kansas City Royals remained the hottest team in baseball Thursday afternoon, when they downed the Minnesota Twins, 7-2, at Target Field.
Royals starter James Shields allowed two runs on five hits and five walks in six innings. He struck out four for his sixth win of the season. He pitched Kansas City to their ninth straight victory and a sweep the three-game series.
Down by three in the fifth with Joe Mauer on first, Trevor Plouffe smashed what looked like a two-run home run to center field, but Lorenzo Cain leapt over the fence to bring the ball back.
The red-hot Royals battered Twins pitchers all game, knocking out 11 hits, with the most damaging one coming in the sixth inning, when they scored twice to go ahead, 7-2, and put the game out of reach.
Twins starter Scott Diamond never found his rhythm, as the Royals hit him early and never let up. The tagged him for three hits in the second when Salvador Perez singled to left, followed by a Cain single. Plouffe mishandled Miguel Tejada's hard grounder to third and then Perez scored on Mike Moustakas' sacrifice fly. Justin Maxwell singled to left, scoring Cain for a quick 2-0 lead.
In the third, Alex Gordon tripled for the second time in two games and scored on Eric Hosmer's sacrifice fly.
The Twins battled back in the third with a leadoff double by Brian Dozier, who had just returned after missing three games with injury. He moved to third on Doug Bernier's groundout to short and scored on Mauer's groundout.
Justin Morneau, who had been mentioned in trade talks one day earlier, got his second extra-base hit of the game and ninth homer of the season -- a 410-foot shot over the centerfield fence in the third that pulled the Twins within one at 3-2.
Diamond walked Lorenzo Cain to lead off the fourth, gave up singles to Tejada and Moustakas and allowed another run when Alcides Escobar beat out a potential double-play grounder.
In the sixth, Diamond walked Maxwell, gave up a single to Escobar and was done for the day. He threw 92 pitches in five innings, plus two batters, allowing up six earned runs on nine hits and three walks.
NOTES: Before the game, the Royals put Chris Getz on the DL, retroactive to June 29, for a left knee sprain. The move makes room on the roster for newly acquired Justin Maxwell. ... Coming in, Twins pitchers had walked 291 batters this season, which is fourth fewest in the AL. They walked four in the game. ... The Twins have gone 22-20 in day games this season, which is tied for the fifth-best record in baseball.