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Twins keep heat on Tigers, beat Royals

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP)

Denard Span kept his eye on the ball, and the scoreboard. The Minnesota leadoff man got four hits and drove in a career-high six runs, sending the Twins past the Kansas City Royals 11-6 Saturday night for their 11th victory in 12 games. The Twins remained two games behind AL Central-leading Detroit, which beat Chicago 12-5. Miinnesota opens a four-game series against the Tigers on Monday night at Detroit. It's definitely a night when it just feels like nothing can go wrong," Span said. "You see the ball and it seems like every pitch looks like a beachball. When you go to swing, you feel like it's going to fall. I've never had six RBIs in a game at any level." The only thing that went wrong this night for the Twins was Chicago's failure to hold a 5-0 lead over Detroit. "Everybody in the dugout was looking at that," Span said. "It's kind of unfortunate. At the same time, we know we've got to take care of business. As long as we win, beat the Royals, we'll see Detroit next week." The Twins batted around in a five-run fourth inning, highlighted by Span's bases-loaded triple. Four runs were unearned after shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt's wild throw, his fourth error in three games, allowed Delmon Young to reach first base and Jason Kubel to score. "You can't make those mistakes against a club that's put runs on the board already and a very good starter out there," Royals manager Trey Hillman said. "Too many unearned runs in a multiple-run fifth. Sometimes we don't have the punch to get back in it. It takes a little wind out of your sails." Brendan Harris' sacrifice fly drove in Michael Cuddyer with the other run in the inning. "It seemed like every time I came up (Matt) Tolbert was on and (Nick) Punto had drawn a walk," Span said. "They put me in good situations." Span's fifth-inning single scored Harris and Tolbert, giving the Twins a 7-2 lead. Span's eighth-inning single scored Tolbert, who had three hits and scored three runs. "He's really turning into a great player," Twins starter Scott Baker said of Span. "He's patient. Obviously, he can hit the ball when we've got guys on base. And he plays great defense. There's not a lot he can't do." Joe Mauer contributed a two-run double in the eighth. He went 2 for 4 with a walk to raise his major league-leading batting average to .371. Baker (14-9) earned his first win in four starts, holding the Royals to six hits and four runs in 6 1-3 innings. He struck out five and walked one. Baker retired 13 in a row after giving up back-to-back home runs to Alberto Callaspo and Brayan Pena in the second. It was the sixth time this season the Royals have hit consecutive home runs. "I just left a couple of breaking pitches up," Baker said. "They weren't terrible pitches. They just weren't good two-strike pitches. I maybe hadn't established my fastball and kind of did them a favor and threw a couple of breaking pitchers where they could get to them. "I think right now, basically you just keep the team in the game and realize we always have a chance. They did exactly what they've been doing for a while. You feel good when you can keep the damage to a minimum you have a legitimate shot of pitching deep into the ball game and the offense is going to come around." Lenny DiNardo (0-2), a September call-up, gave up seven runs - three earned - and eight hits in five-plus innings. "I need to do a better job of damage control," DiNardo said. "It's never good when you put two men on like that with a walk and hit batter. At the same time, if I keep the ball down, I can get a ground ball there and get a double play and be sitting pretty. But I get the ball up there, Span takes advantage of it and they get a five-run inning." Billy Butler doubled home Mitch Maier in the Royals' eighth. It was Butler's 50th double, making him the seventh player in big league history to reach that milestone before his 23rd birthday. The Royals got two runs in the seventh, with Callaspo's double scoring Mike Jacobs, who led off the inning with a single. Callaspo scored on Alex Gordon's groundout. The Royals have given up 39 runs, 11 unearned, in losing four straight. NOTES: Twins manager Ron Gardenhire was ejected in the eighth by plate umpire Eric Cooper for arguing a warning issued after LHP Ron Mahay threw inside. ... The flu bug is running through the Royals' clubhouse, keeping LF David DeJesus, C Miguel Olivo and RF Mark Teahen out of the game. ... Hillman said LHP Dusty Hughes, who had not pitched since a Sept. 19 start and loss at Chicago when he left with a nerve irritation, should be available for bullpen duty Sunday after two bullpen sessions with no discomfort.
Tagged: Royals, Twins

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