Kansas City at Minnesota

Scoreboard
Kansas City (45-69) «103100000580
Minnesota (55-59)100030000470

Meche sparks Royals to rare series win in return

CBSSports.com wire reports
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MINNEAPOLIS -- The Minnesota Twins started this week with hopes of closing ground on the Detroit Tigers in the AL Central.

They had the lowly Kansas City Royals in town and the Tigers were at Fenway Park to play heavy-hitting Boston. But the week quickly turned into one of missed opportunities -- on the field and in the division.

Gil Meche was victorious in his return from the disabled list and the Royals dealt the Twins a major setback in the AL Central with a 5-4, series-clinching victory Thursday.

Meche (5-9) gave up four runs on seven hits in five innings of his first start since July 11, and the Royals won their first series since a trip to Houston on June 23-25.

The Tigers lost three of four to the Red Sox, but after dropping two to the Royals, the Twins are right back where they started the week: five games back.

"When they're losing we need to win," Justin Morneau said. "It's a little frustrating when you go through that, when we have the chances and we don't get it done."

Joe Mauer had a double, a homer and four RBI and Orlando Cabrera extended his career-high hitting streak to 22 games. But Minnesota left nine runners on base in the game, including six in scoring position. They had the bases loaded with one out in the sixth and came up empty, and Michael Cuddyer flew out to right with the tying run on third to end the seventh.

Willie Bloomquist had two RBI, Alex Gordon hit his third homer and Joakim Soria pitched two innings for his 19th save. The Royals had not beaten an AL team in a series of at least three games since they took two of three in the Metrodome on May 1-3.

"It has been a long time even in calendar days," manager Trey Hillman said. "But because of the lack of success of the team, it seems even longer."

It's been all downhill for this perpetually rebuilding franchise since then, and the Twins were hoping to beat up on the AL's worst team while Detroit visited Boston. The Tigers lost their first three games at Fenway, but the Royals didn't lay down in Minnesota.

Carl Pavano (10-9) gave up five runs on five hits with six strikeouts in seven innings for the Twins, a solid outing that wasn't good enough against Meche and the shaky Royals bullpen.

The Royals' opening day starter strained his lower back in an outing against the Red Sox and needed two rehab appearances in the minors before he was activated on Thursday.

"I threw a lot of strikes, which is what I wanted to do back up here," Meche said. "When I was put on the DL I was walking people. It just shows when you walk guys you get in trouble. That's what happened in the fifth inning."

After allowing an RBI double to Mauer in the first, Meche breezed through the next three innings. He had two outs in the fifth when he walked Denard Span and gave up a single to Cabrera. Mauer followed with his 21st homer of the season to pull Minnesota to 5-4.

Hillman sent Robinson Tejada out to start the sixth inning. He walked Joe Crede on four pitches, then threw two more balls to Mike Redmond.

So after just six pitches, and in the middle of an at-bat, Hillman yanked Tejada and inserted right-hander Jamey Wright, who threw one strike to Redmond before walking him.

But the Twins couldn't take advantage. Nick Punto botched an attempt to move the runners up by bunting a pitch foul for strike three. Wright walked Span to load the bases, but got Cabrera to bounce into a double play to end the inning.

"That's what we do best and it's very glaring when we don't do those things," Punto said. "You hate for it to be a letdown, but it is when you're used to doing those things right."

Notes

  • The Royals put RHP Doug Waechter on the DL with a strained right shoulder to make room for Meche.
  • Twins 2B Nick Punto attended Wednesday's practice round of the PGA Championship at Hazeltine in Chaska, Minn. John Daly allowed Punto to tee off for him on No. 18. He hit driver in to the rough on the right side.
  • Minnesota Wild coach Todd Richards threw out the first pitch to Justin Morneau, the team's resident hockey fanatic.
 
Copyright 2014 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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Gil Meche gives up seven hits over five innings in his first start since July 11. (AP)
Gil Meche gives up seven hits over five innings in his first start since July 11. (AP)

Players of the Game
Kansas City

G. Meche
IP 5.0
H 7
ER 4
BB 2
K 2
Minnesota

J. Mauer
AB 4
R 1
H 2
HR 1
RBI 4
 

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Kansas City Royals
David DeJesus, LF4110123 .266
Willie Bloomquist, CF4112021 .257
Billy Butler, 1B4021000 .300
    Josh Anderson, PR-RF0000000 .235
Mike Jacobs, DH4001021 .233
Alberto Callaspo, 2B3010112 .307
Mark Teahen, RF-1B4000002 .278
John Buck, C4000011 .215
Alex Gordon, 3B3211120 .224
Yuniesky Betancourt, SS4120000 .241
Totals34585310  
Batting
2B - Billy Butler (37, Pavano)
3B - David DeJesus (8, Pavano), Yuniesky Betancourt (5, Crain)
HR - Alex Gordon (3, Pavano)
RBI - Willie Bloomquist 2 (24), Billy Butler (59), Mike Jacobs (40), Alex Gordon (11)
2-OUT RBI - Alex Gordon (4)
SB - David DeJesus (4, 2nd base off Pavano/Redmond)
Team LOB - 5
Fielding
DP - Callaspo-Butler
Kansas City Royals
Gil Meche (W,5-9) 5744221 4.62
Robinson Tejeda0000200 4.98
Jamey Wright (H,8) 1000210 4.85
John Bale (H,10) 1000000 6.20
Joakim Soria (S,19) 2000120 2.34
Pitches-Strikes - Gil Meche 83-54, Robinson Tejeda 6-0, Jamey Wright 20-10, John Bale 11-6, Joakim Soria 35-25
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Gil Meche 8-5, Jamey Wright 1-0, John Bale 2-1, Joakim Soria 1-3
Batters Faced - Gil Meche 24, Robinson Tejeda 2, Jamey Wright 4, John Bale 3, Joakim Soria 7
Minnesota Twins
Denard Span, CF3210212 .297
Orlando Cabrera, SS5110002 .285
Joe Mauer, DH4124101 .370
Justin Morneau, 1B4000101 .298
Jason Kubel, LF4020002 .307
Michael Cuddyer, RF4000004 .271
Joe Crede, 3B3000121 .237
Mike Redmond, C3000100 .257
Nick Punto, 2B3010022 .204
   a- Brendan Harris, PH0000100 .266
    Alexi Casilla, PR-2B0000000 .172
Totals3347475  
a-walked for Punto in the 8th
Batting
2B - Joe Mauer (20, Meche), Nick Punto (7, Meche)
HR - Joe Mauer (21, Meche)
RBI - Joe Mauer 4 (70)
2-OUT RBI - Joe Mauer 3 (29)
Team LOB - 9
Fielding
Outfield Assists - Michael Cuddyer 1
Minnesota Twins
Carl Pavano (L,10-9) 7555361 5.16
Jose Mijares 1200010 2.43
Jesse Crain 1100030 6.83
Pitches-Strikes - Carl Pavano 112-74, Jose Mijares 11-10, Jesse Crain 21-15
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Carl Pavano 12-3, Jose Mijares 1-0
Batters Faced - Carl Pavano 29, Jose Mijares 4, Jesse Crain 4
Game Information
Attendance - 32373
Game Time - 3:04
Temperature - 70
Umpires - Home - Bill Welke, First Base - Jim Reynolds, Second Base - Jeff Nelson, Third Base - James Hoye