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Twins rally as KC's skid extends to 8 games

MLB.com

KANSAS CITY -- Miguel Sano and Joe Mauer hit back-to-back two-run doubles in a four-run eighth inning as the Twins rallied for a 6-4 win Friday night over the Royals, who lost their eighth straight game.

Royals reliever Joakim Soria, who hadn't allowed a run in nine previous appearances, gave up an infield single to Eddie Rosario just out of second baseman Whit Merrifield's reach, and a walk to Byron Buxton before striking out Brian Dozier. But Max Kepler reached on an error on a line drive to right fielder Jorge Bonifacio, loading the bases.

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KANSAS CITY -- Miguel Sano and Joe Mauer hit back-to-back two-run doubles in a four-run eighth inning as the Twins rallied for a 6-4 win Friday night over the Royals, who lost their eighth straight game.

Royals reliever Joakim Soria, who hadn't allowed a run in nine previous appearances, gave up an infield single to Eddie Rosario just out of second baseman Whit Merrifield's reach, and a walk to Byron Buxton before striking out Brian Dozier. But Max Kepler reached on an error on a line drive to right fielder Jorge Bonifacio, loading the bases.

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Sano, who hit a two-run home run earlier, missed a grand slam to left by inches on a play that was confirmed as a double by a replay review. Mauer then lined another shot into the right-field corner.

Video: MIN@KC: Sano hits two-run double off top of the wall

"Jack was off to such a good start -- 10 innings, five hits, 12 punchouts," Royals manager Ned Yost said of Soria. "We just couldn't help him out much."

Catcher Salvador Perez and designated hitter Brandon Moss homered for the Royals, who hadn't lost eight straight since doing so last June. Ian Kennedy started and gave up two runs in 5 1/3 innings.

Video: MIN@KC: Kennedy strikes out Sano in the 1st

"I was hoping we'd get off to a better start on this long homestand," Kennedy said. "But we've got a lot of games left on this stand and hopefully we can reel off some wins."

Twins starter Kyle Gibson, trying to hold onto his spot in the rotation, lasted 5 1/3 innings and gave up five hits and three runs.

Video: MIN@KC: Gibson strikes out Cain in the 1st

"It wasn't looking particularly good, but Gibby hung in there with probably his best outing," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "The inning we put it together, Rosie had a good at-bat, Buck worked a walk and Kepler hit it sharply and we took advantage of a misplay. Baserunning wasn't great on Miggy's ball but Joe kinda made it moot with the double."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
An actual RISP hit: The Royals have struggled more than any team in baseball with runners in scoring position, coming into the game hitting just .157 (20-of-127). But with two out in the third inning and Merrifield on third, Eric Hosmer fisted a soft liner to center field, giving the Royals a 3-0 lead.

"That was a big hit at the time," Yost said. "We hit a bunch of balls hard tonight right at people so we're starting to swing the bats better."

Video: MIN@KC: Hosmer drives in Merrifield with a single 

Homer hurts Gibson again: Despite being a sinkerballer, Gibson has had trouble with home runs this season, and was again burned by the long ball, surrendering a two-run shot to left to Perez. It was the sixth homer allowed by Gibson in five starts, and the team-leading sixth blast of the year for Perez. It left the bat at 104.9 mph and went a projected 393 feet, per Statcast™.

"I felt like I executed more pitches today, but battled there in the second and third innings," Gibson said. "I think the biggest step was putting up a zero in the fourth after Miggy's homer. I just wanted to keep momentum swings from happening."

SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Royals designated hitter Moss' seventh-inning home run traveled an estimated 417 feet, according to Statcast™ and had an exit velocity of 111 mph, making it Moss' hardest-hit ball of the season. It also was the Royals' second-hardest hit home run of the season next to Hosmer's 111.2 mph on April 8.

Video: MIN@KC: Moss hammers a solo home run to right field

BUXTON MAKES FOUR-STAR GRAB
Twins center fielder Buxton made a difficult catch look easy in the ninth, when Moss hit a hard liner to center with one out. Buxton had 4 seconds to cover 63 feet on Moss' drive, which was rated as a four-star catch by Statcast™, as it had a catch percentage of 46 percent.

"With two strikes, we moved Buxton to the left side of second base so he had a little bit longer to go," Molitor said. "We played him deep with Moss' power around the diamond and he was able to track it down. It's a big out."

Video: MIN@KC: Buxton makes an over-the-shoulder catch

BUCKNOR LEAVES WITH INJURY
Home-plate umpire CB Bucknor took a hard foul-tip off the mask on a swing from Sano with one out in the eighth, and exited the game as a result. Second-base umpire Fieldin Culbreth replaced him behind the plate. More >

Video: MIN@KC: Home-plate umpire leaves game after foul tip

WHAT'S NEXT
Twins: Right-hander Phil Hughes (3-1, 4.71 ERA) is set to start for the Twins in the second game of the series on Saturday at 6:15 p.m. CT. Hughes limited the Rangers to two runs over six innings to pick up the win last time out.

Royals: Right-hander Jason Hammel (0-2, 5.30 ERA) takes the mound for the Royals in a 6:15 CT matchup with the Twins in the second game of the series. Hammel went three-plus innings on Sunday against Texas and gave up three runs.

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Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, 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.