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Lynn labors as Twins fall to last-place Royals

Righty struggles with command, yields pivotal two-run HR
MLB.com @RhettBollinger

KANSAS CITY -- With a second straight defeat that guaranteed a series loss to the last-place Royals to open the second half, the Twins are getting closer to becoming sellers leading up to the non-waiver Trade Deadline on July 31.

Right-hander Lance Lynn, a trade candidate as an impending free agent, struggled to get through five innings, allowing three runs on three hits and six walks with six strikeouts in the Twins' 4-2 loss on Saturday night at Kauffman Stadium. He had trouble with his command, throwing 118 pitches, while his six walks tied a season-high and marked the sixth time this season he's walked five or more batters. It dropped the Twins to 9 1/2 games back of the first-place Indians in the American League Central with 10 days until the Deadline.

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KANSAS CITY -- With a second straight defeat that guaranteed a series loss to the last-place Royals to open the second half, the Twins are getting closer to becoming sellers leading up to the non-waiver Trade Deadline on July 31.

Right-hander Lance Lynn, a trade candidate as an impending free agent, struggled to get through five innings, allowing three runs on three hits and six walks with six strikeouts in the Twins' 4-2 loss on Saturday night at Kauffman Stadium. He had trouble with his command, throwing 118 pitches, while his six walks tied a season-high and marked the sixth time this season he's walked five or more batters. It dropped the Twins to 9 1/2 games back of the first-place Indians in the American League Central with 10 days until the Deadline.

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"It's two games," manager Paul Molitor said. "Everyone comes out of the gate and you're hoping to pick up where you left off. Not that easy. You've got to find a way to win wherever you're at, who you're playing. Doesn't really matter. You've got a Major League opponent over there and [Royals starter Danny Duffy] took it to us [Friday] and tonight was another struggle for us offensively."

Lynn ran into trouble right away, walking Jorge Bonifacio with one out in the first, before serving up a two-run homer to Salvador Perez two batters later to put the Twins in an early hole. The Royals scored again in the third, keyed by three walks from Lynn to load the bases. After falling behind Lucas Duda, 2-1, Duda ripped an RBI single to left. Lynn, though, escaped further damage by getting Hunter Dozier to ground out in an 11-pitch at-bat.

Video: MIN@KC: Lynn snags Dozier's liner in the 5th

"Just was one of those nights where I could not get them to put it in play," said Lynn, who saw the Royals foul off 28 pitches. "And when I didn't make a pitch, I gave up a couple runs on two balls out of the zone that weren't bad pitches. That's baseball. You just have to come back the next time and try to do better."

Lynn, who fell to 7-8 with a 5.23 ERA, wasn't helped by Minnesota's offense, as the bats were quiet against right-hander Jakob Junis and Kansas City's bullpen.

Joe Mauer sparked an early rally with career double No. 415, which set a new Twins record, surpassing Hall of Famer Kirby Puckett. Eddie Rosario followed with an RBI single to give the Twins the lead, but Brian Dozier grounded into a double play to end any momentum.

"Joe had a really nice night, including setting the record, which was pretty special," Molitor said. "We're just having trouble scoring right now in the first two coming out of the break."

The Twins didn't score again until the eighth, when Rosario singled and reached second on a balk by reliever Jason Adam. Eduardo Escobar brought home Rosario with a single, but lefty Tim Hill got Jorge Polanco to bounce into an inning-ending double play. It was another failed late rally for the Twins, who saw a similar comeback effort fall short on Friday.

Video: MIN@KC: Escobar plates Rosario with a single to right

The Royals tacked on an insurance run in the eighth after lefty Taylor Rogers walked the first two batters. Whit Merrifield hit an RBI single with the infield in off sidearmer Trevor Hildenberger.

MOMENT THAT MATTERED
Mauer, who went 3-for-4, made history in the first, becoming the franchise's all-time leader in doubles. Mauer is also 28 hits behind Hall of Famer Rod Carew (2,085 hits) for the second-most in Twins history. Hall of Famer Kirby Puckett has the record with 2,304 hits. Mauer also needs to reach base 68 more times to tie Hall of Famer Harmon Killebrew (3,072 time on base) for the club's all-time record. More >

Video: MIN@KC: Mauer sets Twins' record with 415th double

"It means a lot to me," Mauer said. "Obviously, growing up in Minnesota, the guy I passed, I idolized as a kid. I told the guys in here when Mollie gave me the ball, it was really special to see the boys up on the top step of the dugout. That meant a lot to me. Hopefully there are a lot more to come."

SOUND SMART
The Royals are 5-3 against the Twins this year, but 24-65 against other opponents. It was Kansas City's first series win since May 30, which also came against Minnesota.

HE SAID IT
"Yeah. No question." -- Molitor, on if Lynn will make his next turn in the rotation

UP NEXT
Right-hander Jake Odorizzi (4-6, 4.54 ERA) will start the series finale against the Royals at 1:15 p.m. CT on Sunday at Kauffman Stadium. Odorizzi pitched better heading into the All-Star break, posting a 2.95 ERA over his past four starts. Right-hander Brad Keller (2-4, 3.13 ERA) will start for Kansas City.

Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and Facebook.

Minnesota Twins, Lance Lynn, Joe Mauer