MINNEAPOLIS -- Hits were scarce. The pitching was excellent and the game was well played. And in the end it was the Minnesota Twins who defeated the Kansas City Royals 3-1 to win the first of four games to be played by the two teams this weekend.
Twins starter Samuel Deduno had one of his best outings of the season, throwing 87 pitches in seven innings, giving up one run on five hits while issuing only one walk and striking out three.
"Sammy was fantastic," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "He was really good. Working the strike zone, pounding it. Using his fast ball. The ball was moving all over the place. He kept throwing that sinker and breaking ball in there and they kept rolling balls over to first. He pitched really well."
Royals starter Jeremy Guthrie was equally effective against the Twins. He threw 111 pitches, giving up two earned runs on six hits, two walks and four strike outs in 6 1/3 innings. For much of the game, only Twins clean-up hitter Justin Morneau had any success against Guthrie.
In the seventh inning, a single by Trevor Plouffe, a walk to Chris Parmelee and an error by third baseman Mike Moustakas loaded the bases for the Twins, ending Guthrie's night.
Left-handed reliever Will Smith came in and gave up a sacrifice fly to Pedro Florimon, scoring Plouffe for a 3-1 lead.
"They had the bases loaded with Florimon up and he's .095 against left-handed pitching and he finds a way to get the ball in the outfield," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "We've got to find ways to put the ball in play in those situations."
Deduno handed the game over to his bullpen in the eighth. Jared Burton gave up one run before retiring the side. Twins closer Glen Perkins came on in the ninth and picked up his 20th save.
Twins starter Deduno pitched well in the first four innings, giving up no runs and one hit, a short infield dribbler. He showed good command and kept the Royals off balance.
Guthrie blanked the Twins in both the run and hits column early, retiring the first nine batters. Twins center fielder Clete Thomas got Minnesota's first hit in the fourth with a soft grounder up the middle.
Two batters later, DH Josh Willingham hit a seeing-eye grounder between short and third. Justin Morneau followed with a double down the third base line to score Thomas. Oswaldo Arcia hit a short fly ball to right-center to score Willingham for a 2-0 Twins' lead.
"He threw the ball extremely well," Yost said of Guthrie. "[We] gave up four hits in the fourth and none of them were of the crispy variety. They all found holes.
"But they put two runs on the board in the fourth and outside of that ... anytime you can hold the opposition in a nine-inning game to three runs or less, you pitching staff has done a heck of a job."
The Royals got on the board in the fifth on a solo home run by Salvador Perez, his fourth on the season.
"That's going to happen," Gardenhire said of the Perez homer. "Those guys can swing the bat, too. They have a good ball club. We've seen them do that before. They can put some swings on the ball.
"That Perez, I have seen him short swing a lot of guys. If you look at his numbers against us, we've probably seen him get more hits than anybody else in the league. He's been really tough on us. He looked like he was sitting on a breaking ball and he wacked it up there pretty good."
NOTES: Coming into the game, the Twins pitchers have combined to allow just 197 walks this season -- the fewest in the American League. ... After homering in seven straight games, the Twins have gone three straight without a home run. Their longest homerless streak this season is four games. ... The Royals pitching staff continues to hold down the AL ERA race with a team mark of 3.51, coming into the game. ... The Royals are tied for the second best record in the majors for extra-inning games at a mark of 6-1.