Butler, Francoeur homer as Royals beat Twins

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Not even a bitter cold and steady rain could slow the Kansas City Royals.

Wade Davis pitched out of bases loaded jams in the first two innings, Billy Butler and Jeff Francoeur homered and the Royals beat the Minnesota Twins 3-0 on Wednesday night to sweep the three-game series.

With the first-pitch temperature at 45 degrees, a wind chill in the mid-30s and rain most of the game, the Royals won their fourth straight and sixth in seven games to move three over .500 for the first time since May 12, 2011 — when they were 20-17.

“Horrible,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “The conditions were not very conducive to playing baseball. It was cold and wet, but it played the same for both teams. It was tough to score. I didn’t think anybody would be able to hit a home run tonight with the heavy air and damp air.”

Butler homered in the first, while Francoeur led off the seventh with a home run to extend his hitting streak to seven games.

“It was cold, man,” Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas said. “As long as we get a ‘W’ it doesn’t matter how cold it is.”

The Royals have won their first three Kauffman Stadium games after losing their first 10 at home last April.

“That’s in the past,” Yost said. “That’s not in our mind anymore. We remember it, but this is a new team. It’s nice to be 6-3.”

The Royals got another run in the seventh when Alcides Escobar’s single scored Chris Getz. Salvador Perez had three of the nine Kansas City hits.

Davis (1-0), acquired from Tampa Bay in a December trade, held the Twins to four singles in five scoreless innings, striking out six, walking three and hitting a batter.

“The first two innings, he did a magnificent job of pitching out of bases loaded jams and in the second inning with nobody out,” Yost said. “He kind of settled down from that point. He got through five and his pitch count was up.”

Twins right-hander Liam Hendriks (0-1), who is 1-11 in 22 career starts, took the loss, although he gave up just one run — Butler’s homer — on four hits in five innings.

“I went out there and I was feeling a little disoriented,” Hendriks said. “I wasn’t feeling right. Once I got locked in it was better. It was just the one pitch (Butler’s home run) which hurt.

“I felt really good out of the stretch. The number of pitches, 96 in five innings, that’s not a positive. Just the one home run, I was pleased, compared to the last time out. It was tough conditions today.”

Davis, who threw 52 pitches in the first two innings, struck out Aaron Hicks and Joe Mauer to start the game, before walking two and yielding a bloop single to Justin Morneau. Trevor Plouffe flied out to end the inning.

Davis faced a bigger predicament in the second when the Twins loaded the bases with none out. He rebounded by striking out Hicks and Mauer and retiring Josh Willingham on an infield popup.

“I got into a little trouble early and didn’t make it too easy on myself,” Davis said.

Bruce Chen replaced Davis and worked three innings, giving up two hits, while Kelvin Herrera completed the shutout with three strikeouts to pick up his second save in as many opportunities.

The Twins stranded 12 runners and went 0-for-11 with runners in scoring position.

Notes: Twins LHP Scott Diamond, who had arthroscopic surgery in December to remove a bone chip, is penciled in to come off the disabled list Saturday and start against the New York Mets. Diamond went 12-7 with a 3.54 ERA last season as a rookie. … C George Kottaras has yet to play in the first nine Royals games. … RHP Luis Mendoza will start Friday against Toronto, but will be skipped his next start with the Royals having four off-days in the next 12 days. … After committing just one error in their first eight games, Escobar and CF Lorenzo Cain made fielding miscues Wednesday. … The Twins dropped to 171-172 all-time at Kansas City.