Royals top Twins 4-3 in 11 innings on Burns' sacrifice fly
Minnesota Twins' Max Kepler watches his RBI single during the fifth inning of a baseball game against the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Mo., Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2016. (AP Photo/Colin E. Braley)
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) Billy Burns entered as a pinch runner in the ninth, but ended it two innings later with his bat.
Burns' sacrifice fly scored Raul Mondesi in the 11th inning as the Kansas City Royals defeated the Minnesota Twins 4-3 Tuesday night, staving off postseason elimination.
The defending World Series champions are five games behind Baltimore for the second AL wild card with five to play. The Orioles lost 5-1 at Toronto on Tuesday night.
Mondesi drew a walk from Tommy Milone to lead off the inning, stole second and moved to third on Jarrod Dyson's sacrifice bunt. Whit Merrifield and Eric Hosmer were walked intentionally to load the bases before Burns hit a fly ball to center field that was deep enough to get Mondesi home.
''My approach was try to get the barrel on it,'' Burns said. ''I was very confident if I got it to the outfield, Mondi was going to score, so that was really what I was trying to do. The only thought was did I hit it far enough, fortunately with Mondi over there and the outfielder wasn't able to run straight in on the ball and get that momentum that played a factor.
Rookie Brooks Pounders (2-1), the eighth Royals pitcher, picked up the victory, getting the final two outs of the 11th inning.
The Twins used nine pitchers, matching a club record for an extra-inning game. Milone (3-5) was charged with the loss.
Twins rookie starter Jose Berrios was pulled after 4 2-3 innings, allowing three runs on four hits. Berrios, who has an 8.61 ERA in 13 starts, said he was surprised to see manager Paul Molitor come out to remove him after only 77 pitches.
''I knew that I gave up those two runs in the fourth inning, but I felt good,'' Berrios said. ''I felt comfortable and I felt like I was doing a good job of getting the batters out. But, he's the manager, so that's his position. You have to respect that and move on.''
Royals starter Ian Kennedy was removed after five innings and 106 pitches. He gave up three runs on five hits, while striking out five and walking three. He yielded a solo home run to Eduardo Escobar in a 10-pitch at-bat in the fourth inning.
Juan Centeno doubled home Escobar in the second inning for the first run. Max Kepler's two-out fifth inning single scored Brian Dozier.
The Royals bullpen shutout the Twins the final six innings with Peter Moylan getting perhaps the biggest two outs of the game. Moylan inherited runners at second and third with one out in the sixth. He struck out Bryon Buxton and retired James Beresford on a grounder.
''I knew with a runner on third base that I probably needed to strike out Buxton and then was able to get Beresford, which was perfect,'' Moylan said. ''I knew I had one base open, so I didn't have to attack the zone, which I normally would have.''
The Royals scored two in the fourth on Hosmer run-producing single, his 101st RBI, and Merrifield came home when Kendrys Morales grounded into a double play. Jarrod Dyson's two-out single in the fifth scored Paulo Orlando to tie the score at 3.
Pinch runner Terrance Gore stole second and third, his 11th steal in 12 attempts, in the Kansas City eighth, but Merrifield bunted into an inning ending double play.
NASCAR driver Ryan Newman, who is a friend of Royals manager Ned Yost, visited the team and was in uniform before the game.
SCHAFER BATS FIFTH
Twins LF Logan Schafer batted fifth for the first time this year and the seventh time in his career. He was 1-for-25 in his previous six starts as the No. 5 hitter. He went 1-for-4.
Royals: RHP Dillon Gee has a blood clot in his lung and shoulder and won't pitch again this year. Gee had shortness of breath after pitching 2 2-3 innings in relief Sunday at Detroit and was taken to the hospital when the blood clots were detected. He also had surgery in July 2012 while with the Mets for a blood clot in his shoulder.
Twins: 1B Joe Mauer, who is hitless in his past 15 at-bats, is still bothered by a sore quadriceps and not in the lineup.
Twins: RHP Ervin Santana is 5-9 with a 4.65 ERA in 20 career starts against the Royals. This is his fifth start this season against the Royals.
Royals: LHP Jason Vargas will make his third start after rehabbing from 2015 reconstructive elbow surgery