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Twins timely offense defeats Royals

Minnesota Twins starter Phil Hughes delivers a pitch in the first inning against the Kansas City Royals at Target Field on Saturday. The Twins won 4-1. Photos by Jesse Johnson / USA Today Sports1 / 2
Kansas City Royals shortstop Alcides Escobar (top) jumps over Minnesota Twins right fielder Oswaldo Arcia after making a force out at second base and attempts to throw the ball to first for a double play in the second inning at Target Field on Saturday. 2 / 2

MINNEAPOLIS — Phil Hughes pitched 7⅓ innings of one-run ball and received some timely offensive support as the Minnesota Twins defeated the Kansas City Royals 4-1 on Saturday night at Target Field.

Hughes and Royals right-hander Yordano Ventura were locked in a duel most of the night. Ventura didn’t give up many hits but played with fire, allowing six walks. He also mixed in a balk.

Each time Ventura was in trouble, he escaped — until the seventh inning.

Twins catcher Kurt Suzuki singled to left field to lead off the inning — only the second hit of the night for Minnesota. Left fielder Chris Parmelee followed with a bunt single and center fielder Jordan Schafer bunted both into scoring position. Danny Santana grounded sharply to first and Billy Butler threw home, but Suzuki lifted his hand over the catcher’s glove and touched the plate before the tag, tying the score at 1.

The next batter, second baseman Brian Dozier, doubled down the left field line to drive in another run, giving the Twins the lead. Rookie designated hitter Kennys Vargas’ sac fly later in the inning provided Minnesota with an insurance run.

Suzuki homered in the eighth to provide the final margin, his third homer of the season.

Hughes didn’t walk a batter all night and struck out six, allowing one run and seven hits, including six singles, in winning his 13th game of the season.

Right-hander Casey Fien relieved Hughes in the eighth inning and cleaned up a two-on, one-out jam with a flyout and a strikeout. Closer Glen Perkins worked around a leadoff single in the ninth, retiring the next three hitters in order for his 31st save.

Ventura was charged with the loss after allowing three runs in 6⅔ innings with four strikeouts.

The Twins loaded the bases with one out in the second inning thanks to three walks, but Ventura forced Parmelee to ground into a 4-6-3 double play to end the threat.

The Royals got on the board first in the fourth inning. Right fielder Nori Aoki doubled, stole third base and scored on Suzuki’s throwing error.

  • Danny Santana started at shortstop for the first time since June 25. Santana came through the Twins’ system as a shortstop but has been forced to play center field much of the season.
  • Twins RHP Phil Hughes posted his third straight victory Saturday. Hughes hadn’t won three straight decisions since early May.