"Ideally, I wanted to give Kel another day of rest," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "We were just so thin in the bullpen. But Kel takes the ball no matter how he feels. But he's a bit worn down from the extra workload [team-high 72 appearances] this year."
The Royals scored two runs in the bottom of the ninth, but the game ended when the Twins won a successful challenge of a pickoff throw to first from closer Brandon Kintzler. After Salvador Perez's pinch-hit RBI single made it 7-6, speedy Terrance Gore came on as a pinch-runner. Kintzler threw one soft pickoff attempt, then a second quick one, and Gore originally was called safe.
But Twins manager Paul Molitor challenged and the call was overturned. But the Royals still won 15 of 19 games against Minnesota this season.
Gore said he wasn't leaning.
"No, I was just anticipating front foot up and going," Gore said. "Replay said I wasn't safe, so you stick with it."
Byron Buxton, who tripled in a run in the seventh, doubled with one out in the ninth. Buxton scored on Robbie Grossman's single. Later, Miguel Sano and Max Kepler added RBI singles.
"Obviously, it's good to win and we haven't said that a lot here," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "Every time I've gone on the field here, it's been to change pitchers so it was nice to go out there and shake hands. It was in entertaining fashion and not easy."
Royals left-hander Danny Duffy, who became the team's ace since moving from the bullpen in May, made his last start and was strong for six innings, giving up one run. But Duffy got tagged for four hits and three runs in the seventh before leaving with one out. Duffy finished the season 12-3 with a 3.51 ERA.
"I did what I know I can do this whole year," Duffy said. "It's been a fun year. I wanted to finish high, but it went south there in the seventh. But what can you do? I did my best. ... I left it all out there this year."
Twins starter Kyle Gibson also was solid through six innings, giving up just two runs. But like Duffy, he faltered in the seventh, and gave up two runs before leaving with one out. He walked one and struck out a season-high eight.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Vargas' homer sets record:Kennys Vargas homered for the second straight night, giving him 10 on the year. He became the 10th Twins player with double-digit homers this year to establish a franchise record. The previous mark was nine players in 2004. It was also Minnesota's 196th homer of the year, which is tied for the third-most in club history.
"When you can spread out your power game and get double-figures with guys in double-figures it doesn't happen very often," Molitor said. "A lot of guys have contributed with the home run totals. Being close to 200 homers is a respectable number from a power standpoint."
Orlando Magic: Royals outfielder Paulo Orlando is trying to finish the season over .300. He helped his cause with four hits, raising his average to .307. Orlando doubled and scored in the second, doubled in the third and singled in the sixth and the eighth.
"Paulo is really focused on trying to hit .300," Yost said. "It's a big goal. He's had a great year."
Buxton's big hits: Buxton hit a go-ahead two-run triple with one-out in the seventh after Eduardo Escobar and John Ryan Murphy opened with back-to-back singles. Buxton, who showed off his speed with his triple to left, scored on an RBI single from Jorge Polanco to give the Twins their third run of the inning. He also doubled with one out in the ninth and scored on a go-ahead RBI single by Grossman. More >
"I saw it pretty good tonight," Buxton said. "I did a better job of letting the game slow down and come to me a little bit better. I wasn't as jumpy. I went up there relaxed."
Dyson ignites rally: Trailing 4-2, Drew Butera singled with one out in the seventh to get the Royals going. Then, Jarrod Dyson smashed a triple to right-center to make it a one-run game. With the infield in, Whit Merrifield lined a 2-2 pitch from Gibson for a single to left and the score was tied.
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS Duffy finished the season with 188 strikeouts, the most by a left-hander in Royals history.
FROM SICK BAY Royals designated hitter Kendrys Morales left after the third inning because he wasn't feeling well, Yost said.
WHAT'S NEXT Twins: Right-hander Tyler Duffey (9-11, 6.18 ERA) is set to start on Friday at 7:10 p.m. CT at U.S. Cellular Field. He is looking to be the Twins' lone 10-game winner as they take on the White Sox in the final series of the year.
Royals: Right-hander Yordano Ventura (11-11, 4.40), who had to leave his last start early because of back spasms, will start on Friday at 7:15 p.m. CT, when the Royals open their final series of 2016 with a three-game set against the Indians at Kauffman Stadium.