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'Pen loses lead after 5 hitless to drop opener

Cave homers in 2nd, but late rally falls short of comeback
Special to MLB.com

KANSAS CITY -- For the fourth time this month, the Twins went with an "opener" followed by a "primary pitcher." The committee approach worked for five innings Thursday, but then the Royals foiled Minnesota's plans in a big way.

The Twins nursed a one-run lead and hadn't allowed a hit through five. But reliever Alan Busenitz couldn't keep it going as the Royals broke out for four runs in the sixth en route to a 6-4 victory.

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KANSAS CITY -- For the fourth time this month, the Twins went with an "opener" followed by a "primary pitcher." The committee approach worked for five innings Thursday, but then the Royals foiled Minnesota's plans in a big way.

The Twins nursed a one-run lead and hadn't allowed a hit through five. But reliever Alan Busenitz couldn't keep it going as the Royals broke out for four runs in the sixth en route to a 6-4 victory.

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Leading 2-1, Busenitz faced three hitters and allowed a double to Hunter Dozier, followed by back-to-back homers from Salvador Perez and Jorge Bonifacio. Just like that, the Royals were in control.

Video: MIN@KC: Perez and Bonifacio launch back-to-back jacks

"It's very frustrating, because I know what I'm capable of," Busenitz said. "So, you have to learn from it and not make the same mistakes."

After getting ahead of Dozier to open the sixth, Busenitz said he made too good of a pitch -- thus, the double down the left-field line. The back-to-back homers came with Busenitz having fallen behind in the count.

"To Salvador, I was trying to go up," Busenitz said. "Just didn't get it up. It was right down the middle. [Bonifacio] hit a full-count breaker and I just hung it."

Twins manager Paul Molitor went with reliever Gabriel Moya to open the game, and he breezed through the Royals' lineup for two innings. A two-run homer by Jake Cave in the second staked Minnesota to a 2-0 lead.

Video: MIN@KC: Cave jacks 424-foot, 2-run home run

Stephen Gonsalves -- normally a starter -- came on for the third and managed to get through three hitless innings. The Royals got an unearned run in the fifth and Gonsalves, struggling with his control, left after throwing 69 pitches. Then it all fell apart for Minnesota in the sixth.

Royals starter Heath Fillmyer worked 7 1/3 innings, allowing five hits and four runs.

"Too many baserunners that didn't have to swing the bat and a couple of plays that we missed," Molitor said. "It wasn't a very good game in that regard."

COMMAND ISSUES
Gonsalves wasn't about to use the unorthodox pitching order as an excuse for his control problems. He walked four and threw a wild pitch after warming up following the national anthem.

"I've got my routine when I'm a primary guy, so I feel comfortable doing it," Gonsalves said. "Tonight, my changeup wasn't there for the most part. When your best pitch isn't there, you are kind of looking around and waiting for something to pop up."

Video: MIN@KC: Gonsalves strands 2 in the 4th

SOUND SMART
With his two-run homer on Thursday, Cave has seven homers in his last 23 games since Aug. 19. During that stretch, he's slugging .563, and 11 of his 20 hits have gone for extra bases.

HE SAID IT
"Don't be over-anxious. Settle in. We've got nine guys in the field against their one guy at the plate." -- Gonsalves, on the mindset he needs to overcome command problems and become more pitch-efficient

UP NEXT
Right-hander Jose Berrios (11-11, 3.83 ERA) will be looking to bolster his impressive resume against the American League Central when he faces the Royals on Friday at 7:15 p.m. CT. Berrios is 7-1 against the AL Central, with the only loss coming last Saturday against the Royals. Kansas City will counter with right-hander Jorge Lopez (2-4, 3.72), who took a perfect game into the ninth his last time out while outdueling Berrios.

Robert Falkoff is a contributor to MLB.com based in Kansas City.

Minnesota Twins