Twins 6, Royals 0

Brian Duensing hadn’t won in six weeks. The way he felt warming

up Sunday, throwing the ball all over the bullpen, he wondered if

it might not be another six.

He was also nursing a bad cold. But the Minnesota left-hander

proceeded to pitch eight sharp innings and lead the injury-wracked

Twins to a 6-0 victory over Kansas City for their first four-game

sweep in almost four years.

”It worked out pretty well,” Duensing said with a relieved

grin.

Jason Repko drove in three runs off starter Jeff Francis, and

Matt Tolbert hit a two-run triple in the ninth off Jesse Chavez as

the Twins rang up their first four-game sweep since beating Oakland

four straight July 12-15, 2007. The Twins hadn’t swept four from

Kansas City since Aug. 3-6, 2006.

”A really good performance by Mr. Duensing,” Minnesota manager

Ron Gardenhire said. ”With the heat out there, to last that long

was pretty impressive.”

The four-game win streak is a season best for the Twins, who’ve

been struggling with eight players on the disabled list and were

missing two of their best players, Justin Morneau and Denard Span,

for the second day in a row.

Duensing (3-5) gave up six hits with one walk and four

strikeouts in his longest outing of the season and avoided becoming

the first Twins starter in four years to lose six straight

decisions. The left-hander had five losses and two no-decisions

since beating Cleveland on April 23.

”I couldn’t throw a strike in the bullpen. I didn’t know where

the ball was going,” he said. ”My off-speed was up in the zone.

I’d try to throw a ball in and it’d go out. I’d try to throw a ball

out and it’d go out even farther. So nothing was really

working.”

Getting a three-run lead after the first inning helped quite a

bit, he said.

”It took a lot of pressure off. I kept telling myself I had a

lead, so just try to throw strikes.”

Throwing strikes to the slumping Royals was all that was

needed.

They managed only six runs in the four games and were shut out

for the third time. They are 3-12 in their last 15 games and

haven’t had an extra-base hit since Saturday.

”We’re not putting together much offense right now,” manager

Ned Yost said. ”We’re having a hard time generating any offense to

put runs on the board. That hurts when you can’t do that.”

Duensing was replaced in the ninth by Matt Capps.

Francis (2-6) was charged with four runs, one earned, while

pitching seven innings and giving up six hits.

”The Minnesota Twins came in here with all their stars gone,

all their big players out of the lineup and kind of a mix-and-match

lineup, if you will, and they kicked our tails four straight,”

Yost said. ”They did it.”

Repko’s first hit in 15 at-bats drove in two runs as the Twins

took a 3-0 lead in the first inning with three unearned runs. Ben

Revere, on first with a leadoff single, sped to third when rookie

first baseman Eric Hosmer threw wildly to second on Alexi Casilla’s

attempted sacrifice bunt.

With runners at second and third, Michael Cuddyer popped out and

Danny Valencia walked, loading the bases. One run scored on Delmon

Young’s fielder’s choice grounder. Repko then delivered a two-run

single right up the middle that was just barely out of second

baseman Mike Aviles’ reach.

Luke Hughes doubled off Francis in the sixth inning and scored

on Repko’s RBI single.

”We say all along people have to step up when other people are

down,” Gardenhire said. ”It’s not easy to do. But we’ve moved a

few people around. That’s what has to happen. When people are hurt,

others have to step up. That’s fun to see. I just like it because

we’re executing and running around the bases and playing

aggressively and also having some fun. Guys are enjoying the

game.”

NOTES: Yost said Joakim Soria is close to reclaiming his

closer’s role after two promising outings. … The Twins are

hopeful RHP Nick Blackburn, who left Saturday’s game with a stiff

back, won’t miss his next start. … Morneau was out with a sore

left wrist and Span was nursing a stiff neck. … Morneau’s next

game will be No. 1,000. … Royals DH Billy Butler was 3 for 3 with

a walk and Hosmer had a single to run his hitting streak to seven

games.