KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Joe Mays had not won a major-league game since undergoing Tommy John surgery in September 2003.
"It seems like forever," the Minnesota right-hander said after beating Kansas City 9-4 on Wednesday night. "You really look back and think how long and all the rehab I've gone through and all, trying to be patient. I'm not a very patient person."
Jason Bartlett drove in three runs and Matthew LeCroy hit a two-run homer in support of Mays (1-0), who hadn't won since beating the Royals 16-2 on June 19, 2003. He had the surgery on Sept. 11, 2003, and sat out the entire 2004 season.
"I'd like to put behind me the past year and a half," said the 29-year-old right-hander, who gave up four runs on eight hits in his third start of the season.
"You look back on it and know that's what you went through but you really try not to put it in front of you. You try to put it in the back, file it away. You take this game and know what it means and not take it for granted."
The Royals sank deeper into despair with their seventh consecutive loss and an embarrassing three-pitch relief outing by Shawn Camp. Their record of 5-16 is the worst in the major leagues.
After they scored three in the sixth to tie it 4-all, Brian Anderson (1-2) started the seventh by walking Michael Cuddyer and giving up a single to Nick Punto.
Camp came on and his first pitch was wild, allowing Cuddyer to score from third. His second hit Shannon Stewart. Then Bartlett smacked Camp's third into shallow right field, where Terrence Long tried to make a shoestring catch but let the ball get past him for a two-run triple.
Jaime Cerda then relieved and gave up a sacrifice fly to Joe Mauer to make it 8-4.
"Obviously, it's just one of those situations when I come in and do damage control, get a punch-out or a ground ball," Camp said. "Things just didn't go my way. I'm getting the ball up. I'm just trying to get untracked."
Bartlett hardly knew what to expect.
"I asked Mauer if I should take a pitch, he hasn't come close to the strike zone. I figured he's not going to paint the corners right here," Bartlett said. "He'll throw me something pretty much down the middle. I got one and hit it to right field."
Punto, who had three hits, had an RBI single off Mike MacDougal in the eighth.
The Royals are 2-11 at home and 4-21 in their last 25 home games since last Sept. 11. It's their worst 21-game record since the 1992 club was 3-18 en route to a 72-90 season under Hal McRae.
Anderson went six innings and was charged with six runs on six hits, with three walks and six strikeouts.
Long walked with two outs in the Royals sixth and scored on John Buck's double to make it 4-2, then Ruben Gotay hit his second home run for a 4-4 tie.
Mike Sweeney had an RBI double in the first for Kansas City.
Stewart had an RBI single off Anderson in the third inning and later scored on Bartlett's RBI single.
"It's tough," Royals manager Tony Pena said. "We battled back. We started that inning with the base on balls, then the hit to right, the hit batter then the wild pitch. Long came very close to catching that ball."
In the fourth, Jacque Jones singled ahead of LeCroy's third homer.
Twins RHP Grant Balfour underwent exploratory arthroscopic surgery on his right elbow Wednesday in Cincinnati. Doctors will examine the results and decide in a day or two whether to have surgery. ... No Kansas City starter has won a game since Anderson beat the Los Angeles Angels on April 10. ... Jones has hit safely in 17 of his 18 games.