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Royals hold off Twins

MINNEAPOLIS — Backed by seven innings of one-run pitching from left-hander Jason Vargas, the Kansas City Royals defeated the Minnesota Twins 6-4 Monday night at Target Field.

The victory was the Royals’ third in the four-game series and moved them to two full games ahead of idle Detroit atop the American League Central standings.

Vargas was nearly flawless through seven, allowing only a solo homer to Oswaldo Arcia in his final inning of work. Before that, it was three harmless singles. In between, Vargas retired 10 in a row through the middle innings, allowing only the four hits and a walk en route to his 10th win of the year.

The only concerning news to come from the night for the Royals was the early departure of catcher Salvador Perez, who left the game in the seventh inning with a sore right knee. Team officials declared him day-to-day, but the removal from the game is believed to have been precautionary.

His replacement, journeyman Erik Kratz, belted a solo home run on the first pitch he saw, then followed with another solo blast in the ninth inning for his first career two-homer game.

In the ninth, Royals righty Aaron Crow allowed a single and a walk ahead of Trevor Plouffe, who blasted his ninth home run into the second deck in left field, making it a two-run game and forcing Kansas City to use closer Greg Holland to get the final two outs of the game. He needed seven pitches to get Chris Parmelee and Kurt Suzuki in order for his 38th save.

After a disastrous first start in the majors Aug. 9 against Oakland, Twins right-hander Trevor May got a second chance — this time at home. And through four innings, May looked in control, allowing only a pair of singles and a two-out double.

But as they did in his first outing, the walks finally caught up to May in the fifth. After getting Mike Moustakas to line out to start the inning, May walked three of the next four hitters he faced. Three straight singles followed, scoring three runs and knocking May from the game.

May lasted twice as long as his debut, but still only made it through 4⅔ innings, allowing the three runs on seven hits and four walks.

-- Twins prospect OF Byron Buxton is suffering from headaches after a collision in a game at Class AA last week. Twins GM Terry Ryan said he doesn’t expect Buxton to play another minor league game this season, but should be ready to play in the Arizona Fall League in October.

-- Royals 1B Eric Hosmer said he could return to Kansas City on Thursday for X-rays on his fractured right hand.

Twins, Pelfrey agree: No 2014 return for right-hander

Minnesota Twins right-hander Mike Pelfrey, out since May 1 with groin and elbow injuries, has been ruled out from a return to the mound before the end of the season.

He still hopes to throw his first bullpen around Sept. 3, but when asked about a late-season appearance said, “No way in a game,” even in relief.

Signed through next season on a two-year, $11 million deal, Pelfrey has progressed to 105 feet in his throwing program with Twins rehab coordinator Lanning Tucker. Monday marked Pelfrey’s second straight day throwing from up to that distance.

He will take today off, then repeat the 105-foot distance before pushing out to 120 feet for his next four sessions, starting Saturday.

Once he has shown he can handle throwing from 150 feet, Pelfrey will climb aboard a bullpen mound for some light throwing sessions every third day until the season ends.

Any chance he could move up his schedule if he’s feeling good in his return from mid-June nerve decompression surgery on his throwing elbow?

“There’s no moving up with Lanning,” Pelfrey said with a smile. “The goal is just to leave here healthy and have a normal offseason.”