KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Scott Baker beat Kansas City again, but it wasn't as easy this time.
Baker, who carried a perfect game into the ninth inning of a shutout against the Royals on Aug. 31, gave up three runs in 5 2/3 innings this time. He improved to 3-0 with a 1.59 ERA in three starts against the Royals this year, with 20 strikeouts and two walks in 22 2/3 innings.
"They've got some great hitters," Baker said. "They are very aggressive. They do chase some pitches. They do put the ball in play. Their 2 through 5 hitters, and with (David) DeJesus leading off, is just as good as anybody I think. They are tough outs, no doubt about that."
Baker (9-7) allowed 10 hits but got help from his bullpen. Joe Nathan worked a scoreless ninth for his 32nd save in 36 opportunities.
"I'm sure they took a little more time watching film or doing whatever they needed to do to prepare for the game," Baker said, referring to his near no-hitter. "As far as that aspect, I'm sure it made it a little tougher. As the pitcher, you don't want to make the adjustment for them."
Juan Rincon replaced Baker in the sixth after he yielded two-out singles to DeJesus and Mark Grudzielanek. Rincon retired Mark Teahen on a grounder to end the threat.
"It doesn't matter who is coming in, you don't like to leave guys on base," Baker said. "But Juan did an excellent job. That was a huge out, not so much for me, but for the game."
Alex Gordon went 4-for-4 with two doubles and a walk for the Royals, who stranded 13 runners and equaled their longest losing streak of the season.
"I felt good overall, but without a win it doesn't feel the same," Gordon said. "I was being more patient at the plate, waiting for my pitch and when I got it I was ready to hit it."
The Twins took advantage of errors by first baseman Billy Butler in the first inning and left fielder Joey Gathright in the sixth to score two unearned runs off Kyle Davies (2-5). He walked the first batter in three innings and two scored.
"My leadoff walks hurt us," Davies said. "I'd be better off to not pitch so fine. I need to be more aggressive. There wasn't a whole lot of balls that were hard hit. I can't let the leadoff hitter get on that easily."
Butler's error on Joe Mauer's sharp grounder allowed Jason Bartlett to score from first.
The Royals bunched together four hits in the second to score two runs. Mike Sweeney scored on Butler's groundout, and Jason LaRue's two-out single drove in Gordon. Kansas City left the bases loaded when Baker struck out Grudzielanek.
"I was kind of all over the place, but I made a good pitch when I needed to. I wasn't making great pitches. There were some pitches I left over the middle of the plate. I think it was me not locating like I would have liked to more than them making any drastic adjustments," Baker said. "I obviously would have liked to keep the guys off base, but it happens. They get on base and you just try to keep the damage to a minimal. That's what it is all about sometimes."
Grudzielanek and Teahen hit consecutive doubles to give the Royals a 3-1 lead in the fifth but Minnesota scored three in the sixth.
Jason Kubel, who opened the inning with a walk and went to third on Mauer's double, scored on Torii Hunter's single to left, which Gathright misplayed as the ball got past him. Mauer scored on the error while Hunter raced to third. Justin Morneau's sacrifice fly off reliever John Bale put the Twins up 4-3.
Davies pitched five-plus innings, giving up four hits while walking three and striking out four.
The Twins added a run in the seventh when Mauer's sacrifice fly scored Alexi Casilla, who had a bunt single. Minnesota scored again in the ninth on Bartlett's RBI single.
The Royals loaded the bases in the seventh, but Pat Neshek got pinch-hitter Ross Gload to ground into an inning-ending double play after pitching coach Rick Anderson visited him on the mound with the count 3-1.
"I don't know what Andy told him, but I hugged him," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "That was a huge double play."
Royals manager Buddy Bell was ejected in the seventh inning by plate umpire Larry Poncino. It was Bell's fourth ejection this season and the 51st of his career, 14 with the Royals. ... Gordon tied the Royals' rookie record with his 33rd double. ... Hunter's RBI was his 100th, the second time of his career he has reached that figure. ... Casilla had two bunt hits.