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Kansas City (61-82)011000000260
Minnesota (79-65) «12130000x7131

Twins beat Royals to close gap to one game on White Sox in AL Central

CBSSports.com wire reports
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MINNEAPOLIS -- For the first time in a long time, everything went Minnesota's way on Tuesday.

A 7-2 victory over the lowly Kansas City Royals and Toronto's sweep of a doubleheader against AL Central-leading Chicago has the Twins just one game back in the division race.

Less than 48 hours after their 11th loss in 15 games had them holding on for dear life in the AL playoff picture, they are right back in the mix.

Denard Span had three hits and scored two runs and Justin Morneau homered to lead the Twins to a convincing victory over the Royals that helped relieve some of the pressure that came with their recent struggles.

"It's just about having fun," reliever Jess Crain said. "I think we kind of lost that. We were pressing a little too much."

Jose Guillen had three hits and an RBI and Miguel Olivo homered for Kansas City.

Since taking a half-game lead on the White Sox on Aug. 22, the Twins had won just four times to fall 2 ½ back with 19 games to go coming into Tuesday. So they needed to pile up wins in a hurry, especially at home against last-place Kansas City with a 10-game road trip looming after this series.

"Every win we can get right now is really important," starter Nick Blackburn said.

Blackburn (10-8) allowed two runs and five hits in seven innings and the Twins roughed up Brian Bannister (7-15), who gave up seven runs and 10 hits in 3 2/3 innings.

Bannister's struggles continued one streak while ending another. The right-hander has gone 13 straight starts without a victory and has a loss in six of his last seven outings. His last win came on June 23 against Colorado.

If ever the drought was to end, it figured to be on Tuesday night against the Twins. He entered the night 3-0 with a 2.00 ERA in five career starts against Minnesota, but Span and the Twins finally figured him out.

Span was 3-for-3 with a double, an RBI and two runs scored against Bannister, and Morneau finished him off with a two-run homer that just got over the baggie in right field to give the Twins 7-2 lead in the fourth.

"I love pitching in this ballpark. It's a great atmosphere and I feel like I know this lineup real well," Bannister said. "It just seemed like everything they hit tonight seemed to fall into place."

Despite holding down last place and starting the day 19 games behind the White Sox, the Royals still have a chance to play a big role in the division race this September. Nine of their final 20 games are against the White Sox and Twins, including a three-game series to wrap up the season at the Metrodome starting Sept. 26.

Manager Trey Hillman said before the game that the Royals don't plan to lay down for either team.

"We all have a responsibility to not only try to plan for the future," Hillman said. "But there's a bigger responsibility for me to put the best team on the field every day."

After watching left fielder Ross Gload's half-hearted effort in chasing down a hit by Carlos Gomez allow the speedster to stretch a double into a triple and Guillen nearly get thrown out at first base while loafing out a single to right field, Hillman was left wanting more.

"I wasn't pleased with our overall performance," he said. "There were a couple of areas we could've played the game harder and we need to."

Notes

  • Guillen nonchalantly strolled to first on a single to right in the sixth inning and RF Span made a throw to first base on a play that was a lot closer than it should have been. Guillen threw up his arms and glared at Span, then dismissed him with a wave of his hands.
  • Hillman said Alex Gordon, on the disabled list with a right hip flexor tear, "probably thinks he's farther along than he actually is." If all goes well, Gordon could be activated this weekend against Cleveland.
  • Brian Buscher went 3-for-4 with an RBI and Joe Mauer had two RBI for the Twins.
 
Copyright 2015 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
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Denard Span takes off after one of his three hits. He scores on two of the three times on base. (AP)
Denard Span takes off after one of his three hits. He scores on two of the three times on base. (AP)

Players of the Game
Minnesota

J. Morneau
AB 4
R 1
H 2
HR 1
RBI 2
Kansas City

J. Guillen
AB 4
R 0
H 3
HR 0
RBI 1
 

Related Video

Kansas City Royals
David DeJesus, CF4110000 .297
Mike Aviles, SS3000100 .322
Jose Guillen, RF4031002 .258
Billy Butler, DH4000003 .276
Mark Teahen, 3B4000010 .243
Miguel Olivo, C4111020 .256
Ryan Shealy, 1B2000110 .231
Ross Gload, LF3000001 .270
Alberto Callaspo, 2B3010000 .296
Totals3126224  
Batting
2B - Jose Guillen (36, Blackburn)
HR - Miguel Olivo (12, Blackburn)
RBI - Jose Guillen (87), Miguel Olivo (37)
2-OUT RBI - Jose Guillen (37)
Team LOB - 4
Fielding
DP - Aviles-Callaspo-Shealy
Kansas City Royals
Brian Bannister (L,7-15) 3.21077121 5.81
John Bale 1.1300000 6.05
Jimmy Gobble 1000020 10.46
Kip Wells 1000020 5.45
Devon Lowery 1000010 0.00
Pitches-Strikes - Brian Bannister 93-64, John Bale 22-13, Jimmy Gobble 13-9, Kip Wells 19-13, Devon Lowery 12-8
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Brian Bannister 5-4, John Bale 3-0, Jimmy Gobble 1-0
Batters Faced - Brian Bannister 22, John Bale 6, Jimmy Gobble 3, Kip Wells 3, Devon Lowery 3
Minnesota Twins
Denard Span, RF5231001 .306
Alexi Casilla, 2B2110110 .294
Joe Mauer, C3002002 .324
Justin Morneau, 1B4122010 .311
Jason Kubel, DH4010021 .275
Delmon Young, LF4110011 .286
Brian Buscher, 3B4131000 .306
Nick Punto, SS4110012 .285
Carlos Gomez, CF3011010 .251
Totals33713717  
Batting
2B - Denard Span (14, Bannister), Brian Buscher (9, Bannister), Nick Punto (18, Bannister)
3B - Carlos Gomez (5, Bale)
HR - Justin Morneau (23, Bannister)
SF - Joe Mauer (9), Carlos Gomez (1)
SH - Alexi Casilla (10)
RBI - Denard Span (36), Joe Mauer 2 (73), Justin Morneau 2 (119), Brian Buscher (45), Carlos Gomez (42)
2-OUT RBI - Denard Span (11), Justin Morneau 2 (47), Brian Buscher (13)
Team LOB - 6
Fielding
DP - Casilla-Punto-Morneau, Buscher-Casilla-Morneau
E - Alexi Casilla (10, Throwing)
Minnesota Twins
Nick Blackburn (W,10-8) 7522131 3.67
Dennys Reyes 0.2100100 2.48
Jesse Crain 1.1000010 3.90
Pitches-Strikes - Nick Blackburn 97-70, Dennys Reyes 11-3, Jesse Crain 12-11
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Nick Blackburn 11-5, Dennys Reyes 2-0
Batters Faced - Nick Blackburn 25, Dennys Reyes 4, Jesse Crain 4
Game Information
Attendance - 17015
Game Time - 2:35
Temperature - 70
Umpires - Home - Greg Gibson, First Base - Charlie Reliford, Second Base - Brian Runge, Third Base - Chad Fairchild