MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Alex Gordon hit a two-out triple in the seventh inning and then scored the go-ahead run for Kansas City on an error by Minnesota, and the Royals won their eighth straight game with a 4-3 victory over the Twins on Wednesday night.
The Royals are above .500 at the end of July for the first time since 2003. At 53-51, they are two games over the break-even mark for the first time since May 17. They remained seven games behind Detroit in the AL Central race and 4½ games back of second-place Cleveland, the current holder of the second wild card spot.
Jeremy Guthrie (11-7) won his third start in a row with his seventh consecutive appearance of at least six innings.
Pedro Florimon homered in the fifth for the Twins, but he struck out with the bases loaded to end the sixth. Then in the seventh, with Gordon on third, the shortstop shuffled to his left to get his body behind a grounder up the middle hit by Eric Hosmer. Florimon failed to pick up the ball, though, as his momentum carried him past it. Gordon scored, and so did Hosmer one batter later on Billy Butler’s single off reliever Caleb Thielbar (1-1).
Aaron Hicks took a bad angle toward Gordon’s drive off the center field wall, and the ball ricocheted past him to let Gordon get another base.
Guthrie improved to 7-3 in his career against the Twins, including 3-1 this season. He surrendered six hits, two runs and two walks in six innings while striking out five. The Twins started the sixth with three straight singles and tied the game on Chris Herrmann’s one-out walk. But Hicks popped out to second base, and Florimon fanned on three pitches.
The Royals, who have the league’s second-best team ERA, have relied on their rotation for this midsummer surge. The starters have allowed 11 earned runs in 72 innings over the last eight games.
Ryan Doumit and Trevor Plouffe greeted Kelvin Herrera in the eighth inning with doubles, slicing the lead to 4-3. Hicks added a one-out infield single. But Aaron Crow came in to strike out the last two batters.
Greg Holland pitched the ninth for his 28th save in 30 tries. Joe Mauer took second base on a one-out single and a throwing error by shortstop Alcides Escobar, but Justin Morneau and Ryan Doumit struck out to end the game.
The Royals are 9-3 against the Twins this season and 26-19 against the division.
Twins starter Kevin Correia gave up 10 hits over six innings, but he struck out three without a walk and somehow limited the damage to two runs on an RBI single by Miguel Tejada and a sacrifice fly by Butler.