MINNEAPOLIS -- Brian Bannister shies away from talking about his place in the AL Rookie of the Year picture. His actions are saying plenty.
"The way my team is playing behind me, if they give me six, eight runs every night, you can ask me about it in a couple of weeks," he said. "I've continued to pitch the same way, I try not to let stuff like that affect me."
John Buck had three hits and Shane Costa added three more for the Royals, who tied their season high with 16 hits. Kansas City earned a split of the four-game series.
Minnesota remained 9½ games behind Cleveland in the AL Central. The Indians come to Minnesota to start a three-game series Monday.
"We need to sweep them. Anything other than that doesn't really do you any good," said manager Ron Gardenhire.
Bannister (12-7) allowed six hits and struck out one in eight innings. It was his fifth win in six outings and seventh in nine. He hasn't allowed more than three runs in any of those starts. Joakim Soria pitched a perfect ninth.
The AL Rookie of the Month in June, Bannister leads American League rookies with a 3.16 ERA, and he is 8-3 in 13 starts following a Royals loss. His 12 victories are second among AL rookies, one behind Boston's Daisuke Matsuzaka, and are the most by a Kansas City rookie since Kevin Appier won 12 games in 1990. He is 7-1 with a 2.17 ERA in his past nine starts, including 4-0 with a 2.15 ERA in his last five road starts.
Bannister's ability to throw any of his pitches for strikes at any time in the count is impressive, but Buck is just as impressed with the way the right-hander approaches the game.
"Every time we go out it's like I learn something about him and he learns something about himself and the other guys," he said, comparing Bannister to pitchers like Greg Maddux and John Smoltz. "He has a lot of that makeup. He has an idea of what he wants to do, executes it and makes us look smart."
Bannister did not overpower Minnesota hitters, but had good command of his fastball, slider, changeup and curveball. Bannister faced more than three Minnesota hitters once in the first seven innings, allowing just one Minnesota runner to advance into scoring position. The Royals turned two inning-ending double plays.
"I try to adjust my style a little bit and really just pitch to contact," he said. "It's nice to strike people out, but if you can go out there and get quick outs and keep your team hitting. it really puts the pressure on the other team and the other pitcher."
Minnesota starter Boof Bonser (6-12) allowed seven hits and five earned runs in 1 2/3 innings, the shortest outing of his career. Bonser has one win in his last 15 starts, and has a 5.56 ERA in that stretch.
"It all starts with your starter, and he didn't give us anything today. Just a bad day for Boof, and, in turn, it turned into a bad day for our ballclub," Gardenhire said.
Kansas City batted around in the second inning to gave Bannister all the support he would need.
Gordon led off with a home run to the upper deck in right field. Joey Gathright had an RBI single and David DeJesus drove in two with a double to the right field corner. DeJesus had one hit in his previous 10 at-bats.
Two batters later, an RBI single by Ross Gload gave the Royals a 5-0 lead, and ended the day of Bonser.
"It was one of those days where I had command of absolutely nothing. The fastball was up in the zone, no off-speed," Bonser said.
Gordon led off the third with another upper deck home run off Julio DePaula. Of his 14 home runs, five have come against Minnesota.
"If Alex catches me, that's good for everybody," said Buck, who hit his 17th, a two-run shot in the ninth.
Luis Rodriguez hit a sacrifice fly for Minnesota in the eighth.
Gardenhire said C Joe Mauer, out for more than a week with a strained left hamstring, could be out for another week. ... Buck entered the game in a 1-for-17 slump with five strikeouts in last seven games. ... Royals 2B Mark Grudzielanek singled in the fourth to end an 0-for-11 slump. ... For the second time this season, Garrett Jones started at first base for Minnesota. He had his first career three-hit game.