Twins 7, Royals 2

Win or lose, injuries keep piling up for the Minnesota

Twins.

Starter Nick Blackburn left after five inning with tightness in

his back and Alexi Casilla matched a career high with four hits and

drove in two runs, leading the Minnesota Twins to a 7-2 victory

over the Kansas City Royals on Saturday night.

Blackburn was the latest addition to an overcrowded Twins

training room.

”They’re probably tired of seeing people,” Blackburn said.

”They’re shutting the doors pretty soon. I don’t think they are

too concerned about my back and I’m not either. I think it was more

of precautionary type move. I don’t think it’s going to be anything

serious. I think it’s going to be a little stiff tomorrow. We won’t

really know a whole lot until I do wake up.”

Blackburn said he hurt it while leaping for Alcides Escobar’s

comebacker to end the fourth.

”I just reached up quick, a little jump and it’s almost like

how you hyperextend your back,” Blackburn said. ”I don’t think

it’s going to be anything serious. I went out there and threw the

fifth. It didn’t feel great. I wasn’t real comfortable, but

obviously it’s not something very severe if you’re able to go out

there and pitch.”

Blackburn gave up two runs on seven hits, throwing 80 pitches.

Blackburn is 4-0 in his past seven starts after finishing April

with four straight losses. Five Twins relievers held the Royals to

one single after Blackburn departed.

”It’s a strained muscle,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said.

”He went back in the fifth inning and definitely felt it on

fastballs. We think he’ll be OK.”

Justin Morneau and Denard Span were both held out of the lineup.

Morneau had a sore left wrist and Span was a late scratch with a

stiff neck.

The Twins have eight players on the disabled list, but it

appears likely left-hander Francisco Liriano will be activated

Tuesday and start at Cleveland. Liriano, who has been out with

shoulder inflammation, threw a bullpen session Saturday at Kansas

City.

Catcher Joe Mauer, who has played only nine games this season

and is on the 60-day disabled list with bilateral leg weakness, is

rehabbing with Class-A Fort Myers in the Florida State League and

was scheduled to be the designated hitter Saturday night.

Casilla hit RBI singles in the third and seventh innings to help

the Twins to their third straight win, equaling a season high.

Casilla’s other four-hit game was Sept. 3, 2007 against the

Cleveland Indians.

”A super night for Alexi,” Gardenhire said. ”Alexi is

starting to play like we hoped he would at the start of the season.

We’ve seen him play like for long periods of time and one year he

was like that the whole year. He just has his moments, but right

now he’s as focused as I’ve seen him.”

The Twins scored five runs in the sixth and seventh innings.

Delmon Young and Danny Valencia got the RBIs in the sixth.

The Twins batted around in the seventh – opening the inning with

five straight hits to chase Royals starter Luke Hochevar, who gave

up hits to eight of the last 11 batters he faced. Ben Revere,

Michael Cuddyer and Casilla had run-producing singles. Revere

extended his hitting streak to a career-high eight games.

”Casilla killed us,” Jeff Francoeur said. ”He was a pain in

the rear.”

The Twins’ 13 hits included two doubles by Matt Tolbert. Casilla

drove him home each time. Cuddyer homered to lead off the ninth,

his 19th career homer against Kansas City which is his most against

any club.

Hochevar, the first player picked in the 2006 draft, gave up six

runs and 11 hits in six-plus innings. Hochevar (3-6), who has

allowed 18 runs in 18 innings in his past three starts, is 0-3 in

six starts since a May 1 victory.

The Royals scored both of their runs in the third. Alcides

Escobar snapped an 0-for-20 skid with a one-out single. Alex Gordon

and Melky Cabrera had singles to load the bases. Eric Hosmer’s hit

scored Escobar. Francoeur’s sacrifice fly brought home Gordon for

his 500th career RBI.

The Royals have lost 11 of 14 to drop a season-low eight games

below .500.

NOTES: Manager Ned Yost said the Royals still haven’t decided

yet who will start Tuesday in the place of RHP Sean O’Sullivan, who

went on the disabled list Friday with biceps tendinitis. … Twins

LF Brian Dinkelman had a memorable big league debut. He was hit by

the first pitch he saw in the second inning. His sixth inning

single was his first hit.