KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Joe Mauer continues to make Kansas City his home away from home.
Mauer hit a two-run homer in his first four-hit game in nearly two years, and the Minnesota Twins beat the Kansas City Royals 5-3 Saturday night.
Mauer, who is 13 for 28 against Royals starter Joe Blanton, homered with Brian Dozier aboard in a three-run first. Mauer finished 4 for 5 to raise his average to .337 with 51 RBIs and 41 runs scored in 76 career games at Kauffman Stadium.
“I don’t know,” Mauer said of his success in Kansas City. “It’s a great ballpark. For whatever reason I’ve enjoyed hitting here. It’s a good backdrop. I don’t have an answer for that. I felt good tonight.”
Blanton threw a 2-0 fastball in to Mauer, who drove it out to right.
“I got ahead in the count,” Mauer said. “I said, in that particular situation, I’m looking for something middle in to drive to the right side of the field with Dozier there and the first base hole open. He left it up and I was able to put a good swing on it.”
Mauer hiked his average to .272, hitting 13 for 32 on this trip.
Aaron Hicks’ grounder scored Trevor Plouffe, who missed the cycle by a home run, with the other run in the first.
Plouffe’s tripled scored Mauer in the fifth to extend the lead to 4-0.
The last time Mauer had four or more hits in a game was Aug. 14, 2013, when he had five hits in a 12-inning game against Cleveland.
Glen Perkins pitched a flawless ninth for his major league-leading 27th save.
Twins starter Mike Pelfrey was chased after the Royals’ first four hitters in the fifth reached base. Kansas City loaded the bases on singles by Omar Infante and Alcides Escobar, and a four-pitch walk to Mike Moustakas. Lorenzo Cain followed with a two-run single to left, prompting Minnesota manager Paul Molitor to replacing Pelfrey with Brian Duensing.
The Royals got another run that inning when Moustakas scored on Kendrys Morales’ ground out.
“The big three-run first inning was a little bit of a hole to climb out of,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “We did a nice job in the fifth inning answering their three-run inning in the first. The key to the game is they tacked on two more runs and we weren’t able to.”
Pelfrey, who lasted just two innings in his previous start, was charged with three runs and seven hits with three walks in four-plus innings. In his past five starts, Pelfrey is 0-3 with an 8.51 ERA, leaving three after no more than four innings.
Duensing (3-0), the second of seven Twins pitchers, was credited with the victory.
The Twins increased their lead in the seventh on Torii Hunter’s sacrifice fly.
Blanton (2-2) gave up four runs and nine hits with four strikeouts in five innings. After winning his first two starts, Blanton has allowed nine runs, 14 hits and four walks in 7 2/3 innings over his past two starts.
“It’s unfortunate the first inning went the way it did, four pitches in and you give up two runs,” Blanton said.
The AL Central-leading Royals have lost five of six, while the second-place Twins have pulled to 3 1/2 games back.
Twins: RHP Ryan Pressly left in the seventh inning with a right shoulder strain after giving up a single to Escobar. “As far as his tests, coming out of the game, it looks like it’s going to be like a high lat strain,” Molitor said. An MRI is scheduled for Sunday.
Royals: RHP Yordano Ventura (ulnar nerve irritation) will make his third rehab start Monday for Triple-A Omaha. Manager Ned Yost said Ventura’s bullpen session Thursday went “great.”
Twins: RHP Ervin Santana, who was suspended for 80 games after testing positive for a performance enhancing drug, will make his first start Sunday. He went 9-10 with a 3.24 in 2014 with Kansas City.
Royals: LHP Danny Duffy will make his third start since coming off the disabled list. He is 4-1 with a 2.37 ERA in 10 games against the Twins.
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