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Twins' Hughes earns elusive victory, cools off Royals

CBSSports.com wire reports
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- It is customary in baseball for a pitcher to be awarded a commemorative baseball after his first big-league victory, a nice keepsake to reflect upon years down the road.

The Twins' Phil Hughes did not earn his first victory on Sunday. It only felt like it.

His jokester teammates gave him a ball anyway.

Hughes pitched into the seventh inning to win for the first time since last July, helping Minnesota to an 8-3 victory against the Kansas City Royals that also avoided a three-game sweep.

It was Hughes' first victory in 18 outings, a span that included eight losses.

"I knew it had been a long time," said Hughes, who signed a $24 million, three-year deal with Minnesota in December. "It's good to get that one out of the way, and hopefully go on a good run here and continue to pitch some quality games. But my first one with a new team, it's special."

He could have done without the ball, though.

"We had a little fun with him," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "It's his first win since way back, and first win as a Twin, too, so we gave him a little grief about that."

Josmil Pinto hit a home run and Trevor Plouffe and Kurt Suzuki each drove in a pair of runs for the Twins, who battered Yordano Ventura (1-1) before piling on against the Royals' bullpen.

Alcides Escobar hit a two-run homer and Omar Infante also drove in a run for the Royals, whose five-game winning streak came to an end.

"If you don't score runs it doesn't matter how many hits you get. We got a loss here today," said the Royals' Alex Gordon. "We'll move on from here."

Hughes' solid showing came after he had allowed 12 earned runs in his first 15 innings with Minnesota. The former All-Star had not survived past the sixth since July 13, when he was still a member of the New York Yankees and was facing his current team.

It helped that the Twins staked him to an early lead.

After they went 1 for 8 with runners in scoring position in a 5-4 loss Saturday, Plouffe came through with a double in the Twins' first opportunity Sunday. His drive into the gap in right was enough to score Brian Dozier and Joe Mauer and give Minnesota a 2-0 lead in the first inning.

The Twins added on in the fourth. After Suzuki walked, the Royals were unable to turn a double play on a grounder by Aaron Hicks. Ventura then threw the ball away trying to pick him off first, and a wild pitch put Hicks on third base. Eduardo Escobar's single scored the run.

Ventura was finally pulled from the game in the fifth, when the 22-year-old right-hander gave up a leadoff triple to Plouffe and a single to Chris Colabello. He allowed four runs on six hits and four walks in four-plus innings, a line that looks even uglier after two dominant outings in which he allowed a combined one run on six hits against Tampa Bay and Houston.

"I tried to correct, to make adjustments," Ventura said through Bruce Chen, his translator. "It's not every day that I can make the pitches, but I wanted to go deep and help the team."

The Royals bullpen, which had thrown 14 consecutive scoreless innings, never gave their offense a chance to get Ventura off the hook. Pinto's homer came off Louis Coleman later in the fifth, and Justin Marks -- making his big league debut -- allowed three more runs in the seventh.

Escobar's two-run shot later in the seventh knocked Hughes from the game, but relievers Brian Duensing, Casey Fien and Glen Perkins made sure his long losing streak would finally end.

"It's good, a good feeling," Hughes said. "Someone brought up last July or something since my last win. Definitely nice to get that one and hopefully get on a little bit of a run."

Notes

The Twins played with 24 players after claiming OF Sam Fuld off waivers from Oakland and designating OF Darin Mastroianni for assignment. Fuld is expected to join the Twins on Tuesday in Tampa Bay. ... The Royals will open a four-game series Monday in Cleveland with RHP Jeremy Guthrie on the mound. The Twins are off before their three-game set against the Rays. ... The Twins left 11 on base. The Royals stranded eight.

 
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Phil Hughes (center) and Joe Mauer collide but avoid disaster on Alex Gordon's groundout, and the Twins avoid disaster in KC. (USATSI)
Phil Hughes (center) and Joe Mauer collide but avoid disaster on Alex Gordon's groundout, and the Twins avoid disaster in KC. (USATSI)

Players of the Game
Kansas City

A. Escobar
AB 3
R 2
H 2
HR 1
RBI 2
Minnesota

T. Plouffe
AB 4
R 2
H 3
HR 0
RBI 2
 
Minnesota Twins
HittersABRHRBIBBSOLOBAVG
Brian Dozier, 2B6130022 .219
Joe Mauer, 1B4100126 .257
Trevor Plouffe, 3B4232110 .313
Chris Colabello, RF4011023 .353
   Chris Herrmann, RF1000000 .083
Jason Kubel, LF4111122 .328
Josmil Pinto, DH3211221 .233
Kurt Suzuki, C4022102 .294
Aaron Hicks, CF4100102 .167
Eduardo Escobar, SS4021102 .278
Phil Hughes, P0000000 .000
   Brian Duensing, P0000000 .000
   Casey Fien, P0000000 .000
   Glen Perkins, P0000000 .000
Totals388138811  
Batting
2B - Trevor Plouffe 2 (7, Ventura), Kurt Suzuki (3, Marks)
3B - Trevor Plouffe (1, Ventura)
HR - Josmil Pinto (4, Coleman)
RBI - Trevor Plouffe 2 (13), Chris Colabello (20), Jason Kubel (11), Josmil Pinto (8), Kurt Suzuki 2 (14), Eduardo Escobar (2)
2-OUT RBI - Josmil Pinto (2), Eduardo Escobar (1)
CS - Chris Colabello (2, 2nd base by Coleman/Perez)
Team LOB - 11
Fielding
DP - Dozier-Escobar-Mauer
Minnesota Twins
PitchersIPHRERBBSOHRERA
Phil Hughes (W,1-1) 6933131 6.43
Brian Duensing 1.1100000 0.00
Casey Fien 0.2000010 4.05
Glen Perkins 1100020 4.50
Pitches-Strikes - Phil Hughes 96-69, Brian Duensing 15-9, Casey Fien 7-6, Glen Perkins 11-9
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Phil Hughes 6-8, Brian Duensing 1-3
Batters Faced - Phil Hughes 27, Brian Duensing 5, Casey Fien 2, Glen Perkins 4
Kansas City Royals
HittersABRHRBIBBSOLOBAVG
Norichika Aoki, RF5020004 .286
Omar Infante, 2B5011002 .283
Eric Hosmer, 1B4020001 .292
Salvador Perez, C4000013 .242
   Brett Hayes, C0000000 .000
Alex Gordon, LF4000000 .281
Billy Butler, DH4020010 .213
Mike Moustakas, 3B4000012 .125
Justin Maxwell, CF4120021 .176
Alcides Escobar, SS3222110 .298
Yordano Ventura, P0000000 .000
   Louis Coleman, P0000000 .000
   Justin Marks, P0000000 .000
   Michael Mariot, P0000000 .000
Totals37311316  
Batting
2B - Justin Maxwell (1, Hughes), Alcides Escobar (5, Hughes)
HR - Alcides Escobar (1, Hughes)
RBI - Omar Infante (9), Alcides Escobar 2 (7)
Team LOB - 8
Fielding
DP - Perez-Moustakas, Perez-Moustakas-Escobar-Infante-Hosmer
E - Yordano Ventura (2, Throwing)
Kansas City Royals
PitchersIPHRERBBSOHRERA
Yordano Ventura (L,1-1) 4644460 2.65
Louis Coleman 1111011 5.40
Justin Marks 2433320 13.50
Michael Mariot 2200120 4.50
WP - Yordano Ventura (1)
Pitches-Strikes - Yordano Ventura 94-56, Louis Coleman 11-7, Justin Marks 55-35, Michael Mariot 31-17
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Yordano Ventura 4-2, Michael Mariot 2-1
Batters Faced - Yordano Ventura 22, Louis Coleman 3, Justin Marks 13, Michael Mariot 8
Game Information
Attendance - 17710
Game Time - 3:08
Temperature - 79
Umpires - Home - Brian Gorman, First Base - Jim Wolf, Second Base - David Rackley, Third Base - Bill Welke