Kevin Correia bounced back from two subpar outings to throw six strong innings, but the offense couldn't back him and the bullpen ultimately faltered to hand the Twins a 6-3 loss to the Royals at Kauffman Stadium.
It marked the second straight night the Twins went just 2-for-12 with runners in scoring position, and this time they left 11 runners on base to spoil Correia's effort.
"He gave us an opportunity to win a ballgame but unfortunately we're just missing too many chances early," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "We're not coming up with big hits and coming up with those extra points you need."
The failure to produce with runners in scoring position came back to haunt the Twins, as the Royals took the lead and put the game away with four runs in the seventh.
Left-hander Caleb Thielbar put two runners on with one out before right-hander Ryan Pressly surrendered a two-run triple to Alcides Escobar to give Kansas City the lead. Jarrod Dyson followed with an RBI single and later stole second and third, scoring on a throwing error from catcher Eric Fryer on the throw to third.
Gardenhire pointed to Thielbar walking Mike Moustakas with one out as the key to the inning, as it led to the big hit from Escobar, who is a career .296 hitter against the Twins and a .421 hitter against them this year.
"That was huge," Gardenhire said. "Thielbar -- that was his guy. We had to bring the righty in and he tried to get ahead with him but gave him a pretty good pitch to hit. That kid, I venture to say he has good numbers against us, and he got his pitch and did what he's supposed to do and ripped it."
It came after Correia, who lasted just four innings in each of his previous two outings, was much better this time out, as he registered his first quality start since July 12. He gave up two runs (one earned) on five hits with four strikeouts and no walks, but was stuck with the no-decision.
"I felt pretty good," Correia said. "I was able to get ahead of guys. I wasn't walking guys before, but I was falling behind and giving in too much. But I was able to get ahead today."
The Royals scored both runs against Correia in the fifth inning with Raul Ibanez starting the rally with a one-out double. Moustakas followed with a double of his own to score Ibanez before Dyson connected on a hard-hit ball to second baseman Eduardo Escobar, who couldn't handle it for a run-scoring error.
The two runs tied the game, as the Twins only managed to score twice off right-hander Yordano Ventura, who surrendered one earned run over seven solid innings to pick up the win.
"I thought he threw the ball really well," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "It took him a couple innings to get his curveball going, but once he got it going, he was real affective with it."
Minnesota scored in a hurry with a homer from Danny Santana to lead off the game, but Ventura settled down after that. The Twins didn't score again until the third thanks to back-to-back throwing errors from Moustakas at third base.
"It's one point, but you have to add on," Gardenhire said about the leadoff homer. "We had some chances to add on but we didn't. Guys are out there trying and we had some good at-bats against them. We got plenty of people out there."
Chris Parmelee also made an out at home plate in the sixth, as he tried to advance on a grounder to shortstop from Escobar.
The Twins scored in the top of the eighth via an RBI double from pinch-hitter Kurt Suzuki on the first extra-base hit Royals reliever Wade Davis had allowed all season. But Minnesota left the bases loaded, as Davis struck out Eduardo Nunez to end the inning.
It handed the Twins the series loss and they're now just 4-9 since the All-Star break and hitting just .165 (16-for-97) with runners in scoring position over that span.
"We did it again tonight and missed opportunities," Gardenhire said. "When we had chances with less than two outs, we couldn't get a bit hit, and it always comes back to bite you."