KANSAS CITY -- Jose Berrios delivered a solid outing on Friday, but the Twins' bullpen couldn't finish what Berrios had started.Closer Trevor Hildenberger entered the ninth with a one-run lead, but it all went astray for Minnesota when Whit Merrifield tied the game with an RBI single and Salvador Perez
KANSAS CITY -- Jose Berrios delivered a solid outing on Friday, but the Twins' bullpen couldn't finish what Berrios had started.
Closer Trevor Hildenberger entered the ninth with a one-run lead, but it all went astray for Minnesota when Whit Merrifield tied the game with an RBI single and Salvador Perez won it with a walk-off grand slam as Kansas City exploded for five runs in the 8-4 victory.
Hildenberger went to a 3-2 count on Perez and then tried to get Perez out in front with a slider. But Perez came up the winner with his grand slam and Minnesota's losing streak at Kauffman Stadium was extended to seven games.
"There are a lot of pitches I wish I could have had back, including the last one," Hildenberger said.
It was the third blown save for Hildenberger in eight tries and culminated a frustrating night for the Minnesota bullpen. Trevor May entered in the seventh with a 4-2 lead and surrendered a solo homer to Raul Mondesi. Taylor Rogers got through a scoreless eighth to extend his scoreless inning streak to 20 2/3 innings, but only because the Twins executed on a relay play to get Ryan O'Hearn at the plate on Jorge Bonifacio's double.
Then came the fateful ninth as the Royals had five consecutive batters reach after Hildenberger retired the leadoff hitter.
"It was a different game than [Thursday], where we kind of got what we deserved," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "Everything was kind of lined up. We just couldn't find a way to close it out."
Berrios walked three in the opening two innings and the Royals capitalized with a run in the first and another in the second.
"The beginning of the game was very humid," Berrios said through a translator. "I couldn't grip the ball well because of that. But I felt very good out there."
Berrios allowed just two runs through six innings, outdueling Kansas City starter Jorge Lopez. Last Saturday, Lopez was able to outshine Berrios at Target Field as Lopez took a perfect game to the ninth inning.
"He had a good night," Molitor said of Berrios. "He settled in and got in a good groove."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Mauer moves up: Joe Mauer put the Twins on the board with a booming RBI double to right-center in the fifth inning. It was the 598th extra base hit of Mauer's career, which moved him to fourth place on the Twins' all-time list ahead of Tony Oliva.
Mauer's 64 extra-base hits against Kansas City rank third among active players. He trails only Victor Martinez (73) and Jose Cabrera (67).
Astudillo shines: Catcher Willians Astudillo continues to impress.
Astudillo had a career-high three hits on Friday, including an RBI single in the seventh, and made two standout defensive plays. Astudillo lunged from behind the plate to grab a well-executed bunt in the second inning and got a forceout at third. Then he temporarily preserved Minnesota's lead with a diving tag at the plate on O'Hearn in the eighth.
"The throw was a little high, but Astudillo did a good job of putting the tag on," Molitor said.
Right-hander Chase De Jong (0-0, 0.00 ERA) will face the Royals for the second time in a week when he gets the ball for Saturday's 6:15 p.m. CT game. De Jong took a no-decision last Sunday when he shut out the Royals for four innings, allowing one hit and four walks with five strikeouts. The Royals will counter with veteran right-hander Ian Kennedy (1-8, 4.92 ERA), who limited Minnesota to one run over six innings last Sunday.
*Robert Falkoff *is a contributor to MLB.com based in Kansas City.