KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kevin Correia cruised through seven innings and then all of a sudden, ended up with a loss.
Ervin Santana pitched eight strong innings, Alcides Escobar doubled home the go-ahead run and the Kansas City Royals rallied to beat Correia and the Minnesota Twins 3-1 on Monday in their home opener.
After throwing seven scoreless innings, Correia retired only one of the four batters he faced in the eighth.
“My pitch count was low,” he said. “There’s no reason not to go out there. Everything felt good. I threw all my pitches mainly for strikes. I had decent movement on my cutter and my sinker, and I got a lot of ground balls.”
Correia (0-1) limited the Royals to five singles before Lorenzo Cain doubled to right-center to open a three-run eighth. After Chris Getz’s sacrifice bunt moved Cain to third, Alex Gordon singled to tie the score.
Escobar’s double scored Gordon and knocked Correia out of the game. Jared Burton gave up a run-scoring single to Billy Butler, who tied a club record with seven RBIs on Sunday in Philadelphia.
“I made a couple bad pitches,” he said. “I got behind on (Cain) and I didn’t want to walk him. I threw a middlish pitch that he got enough of to get it in the gap. The pitch to Gordon, I tried to throw a fastball and it ran back over the middle.”
Correia was charged with three runs and eight hits in 7 1-3 innings.
“Your starter goes into the eighth without giving up a run,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “He had a five-hit shutout. He got one pitch up and it got to the gap. They got a big hit there. The hit-and-run (by Escobar) was incredible. That ball was almost over his head. That’s a hell of job by Escobar to get the bat on the ball.
“Correia was in line to finish a ballgame it looked like. It just didn’t work out. But he gave up (three) runs. That’s a hell of an effort.”
Santana (1-1), acquired from the Los Angeles Angels on Oct. 31 for minor league left-hander Brandon Sisk, gave up a run and eight singles. He struck out seven, walked one and hit a batter with a pitch.
The right-hander allowed only four hits after the first inning, when the Twins scored their lone run.
“He really had his big slider working and he had a good fastball, too,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “After the first inning he really settled down. His slider was phenomenal. He was able to throw it at the back foot of their big sluggers and keep them off balance. Giving us eight strong innings was big.”
The Royals, who had the best spring training record in the majors, won their first home opener since 2008 when they beat the New York Yankees 5-2.
“It means a lot,” Yost said. “Last year there was as much excitement, but we were down seven after three innings. We wanted to show our fans some exciting baseball. We wanted them to see in person what they have been reading about. We’re very happy to win the home opener in front of a sellout crowd.”
Aaron Crow worked the ninth to earn his first save of the season and the third of his career — two against the Twins. His previous save came July 21 against Minnesota. The Royals, who have come from behind to win three straight games, have three saves from three different pitchers this season.
Crow walked Chris Parmelee with one out, but coaxed Brian Dozier to bounce into a game-ending double play.
Joe Mauer scored on Ryan Doumit’s two-out single in the first for the only Minnesota run. It was the first time this season the Twins scored first after being outscored 9-1 in the first two innings during their first six games.
The Twins bunched four singles in the first inning, but managed just the one run after Doumit ended the inning by being thrown out scrambling to get back to second base when Justin Morneau stopped at third on Trevor Plouffe’s single.
“He put his head down, anticipating that (Morneau) was going to score,” Gardenhire said. “With Gordon out there we’re not going to run too many times. He had the ball before Morny got to third. We’re in a no-collision thing with Morny. We don’t want to see him in any collisions.”
Said Doumit: “I just didn’t pick up the third base coach. We had a guy at second base. I didn’t take into consideration that he wouldn’t score. It was my fault. There’s no excuse for it. You’re taught to pick up the third base coach as you’re rounding second and I didn’t. I paid for it.”
Santana settled down from there and was glad his teammates rallied in the eighth.
“Better later than never,” he said. “I know we are going to score runs.”
NOTES: The Twins are hitting .238 with 16 extra-base hits and 29 runs in their first seven games. … Mauer has 1,278 hits, passing Gary Gaetti for sixth place on Minnesota’s career list. Kirby Puckett is the franchise leader with 2,304. … RHP Jeremy Guthrie, who starts Tuesday against the Twins, turned 34 on Monday. … Chris Parmelee was thrown out trying to steal second base in the seventh inning. The Twins have been successful on only two of six stolen base attempts this season.
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