MINNEAPOLIS -- Lorenzo Cain hit a go-ahead two-run triple in the seventh and Melky Cabrera laced a two-run homer in the sixth to lift the Royals to a 5-4 win over the Twins on Sunday at Target Field.It gave the Royals the series victory and moved them within 3 1/2
MINNEAPOLIS -- Lorenzo Cain hit a go-ahead two-run triple in the seventh and Melky Cabrera laced a two-run homer in the sixth to lift the Royals to a 5-4 win over the Twins on Sunday at Target Field.
It gave the Royals the series victory and moved them within 3 1/2 games of the Twins, who remain the second American League Wild Card team. Minnesota still leads the Angels by 1 1/2 games, but the Orioles beat the Blue Jays on Sunday and also trail by 1 1/2 games.
"We had to get this one here today," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "We didn't want to leave here 5 1/2 games out of the Wild Card. We absolutely had to have it. Kind of shows the character of the team to flush that game [a 17-0 loss] yesterday."
It spoiled a solid effort from Twins right-hander Ervin Santana, who went 6 2/3 innings, allowing four runs on eight hits and a walk. Santana was lifted with Minnesota leading by a run in the seventh, but reliever Alan Busenitz surrendered a go-ahead two-run triple to Cain after a controversial check-swing call.
Royals right-hander Ian Kennedy bounced back from a rough August that saw him post a 9.57 ERA, going 5 2/3 innings and allowing four runs (two earned) on four hits and a walk. He gave up a two-run homer to Eduardo Escobar in the fifth and a bloop two-run single to Byron Buxton in the sixth.
The Twins made it interesting in the ninth against right-hander Brandon Maurer, as four-time Gold Glove Award winner Alex Gordon dropped a fly ball in left as he tried to make a running catch to open the inning. Escobar reached second on the error but was stranded there, with Maurer getting his first save with Kansas City.
• Sans Herrera, KC's bullpen delivers in finale
"It's not a series where total runs mattered," said Twins manager Paul Molitor, as the Twins outscored the Royals, 27-12, in the three games. "We lost two tough games by one run, sandwiched between a nice effort yesterday. We have to hop on the plane and try to learn from every game and be ready for Tampa tomorrow night."
• Twins look to move on after tough series loss
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Cain is able: Cain fell behind Busenitz, 0-2, with two outs and two runners on in the seventh and checked his swing on a fastball in the dirt that the Twins believed he went around on, causing Molitor to get ejected for arguing the call. Just two pitches later, Cain crushed a two-run triple off the center-field wall and was thrown out at home trying to stretch it to an inside-the-park homer.
Cain pointed to first-base umpire Mike Muchlinski after Muchlinski ruled the right-handed hitter had checked his swing.
"I like to show the umpires some love when they make the right call," Cain said, smiling.
Cain ran right through third-base coach Mike Jirschele's stop sign before being thrown out at home.
"I hit third and I just kept going," Cain said. "I just kept running. That's what we do. Be aggressive. It was pretty close."
Cabrera to the rescue: The Twins' one-run lead after scoring twice in the fifth was short-lived, as Cabrera drilled a two-run homer off Santana to give the Royals the lead in the sixth. It was Cabrera's 17th homer of the year and his fourth since joining Kansas City before the non-waiver Trade Deadline.
"It's the umpire's discretion, and he said he didn't go. We would've loved for him to say yes, but he didn't, and that's the game. Sometimes you have to deal with being in tough spots. He has every right to make the call the way he did. That wasn't by any chance the game right there. Sure, it swings the momentum a little, but we had opportunities to tie it or win it, especially there in the ninth. Just a baseball play." -- Twins catcher Chris Gimenez, on Cain's check swing
"It was kind of a controversial play. I think someone is getting thrown out on that either way. It's a 50-50 play. The guy on the non-receiving end of it is probably going to get thrown out." -- Yost, on the check swing
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
With his leadoff single in the fourth, Joe Mauer extended his hit streak to 12 games, which is the longest active streak in the AL.
Molitor was tossed by home-plate umpire Marty Foster after arguing Cain's check-swing call with two strikes. It was the second time Molitor has been ejected and the sixth time in his career.
"Obviously, I thought he went too far," Molitor said. "It's pretty simple. Marty didn't get a good look at it, so he turned it over and we didn't get the call. With the game on the line, I thought he went plenty far to get the call."
Royals: Rookie right-hander Jakob Junis (6-2, 4.41 ERA) takes the mound for the Royals as they open a three-game series at Comerica Field against the Tigers on Monday at 12:10 p.m. CT. Junis gave up three hits and one run over 5 2/3 innings Tuesday against the Rays.
Twins: The Twins head to Tampa Bay for a three-game series that begins on Monday at 6:10 p.m. CT. Right-hander Jose Berrios (12-6, 3.80 ERA) starts for the Twins after tying a career high with 11 strikeouts over seven scoreless innings against the White Sox his last time out.
Watch every out-of-market regular-season game live on MLB.TV.
Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter **@RhettBollinger** and listen to his podcast.
Jeffrey Flanagan has covered the Royals since 1991, and for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter @FlannyMLB.