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Thome goes deep again, Delmon Young drives in 4, Twins stretch lead with 10-3 win over Royals

Jim Thome hit another towering homer, Delmon Young drove in four runs and the Minnesota Twins beat the Kansas City Royals 10-3 on Tuesday night to take their largest AL Central lead in 10 days.

Francisco Liriano (13-7) raised his second-half record to 7-0 in 10 starts, giving up seven hits and two runs in seven easy innings. J.J. Hardy had three RBIs for the Twins, who scored six times in the third against Brian Bannister (7-12) and moved 4½ games ahead of Chicago in the division race.

The White Sox lost to Detroit 9-1, ending their seven-game winning streak. The Twins have won five straight, 10 of their last 12 and 33 of 45.

After one-run decisions in eight of their last nine games, winning six of those tight ones, the Twins were eager for a breather. That's exactly what they got, thanks to Young and Hardy at the bottom of the lineup.

Manager Ron Gardenhire was able to take some of his regulars out early, and newly recalled relievers Glen Perkins and Pat Neshek worked an inning apiece.

The Royals lead the majors with 53 one-run games, just ahead of the Twins' 49.

Bannister lasted only 2 2-3 innings. All seven runs against him scored with two outs, with Jason Kubel, Young and Hardy delivering the RBIs in the third. After tailing off following his torrid July, Young bounced back in a big way.

Thome has been steady all season long.

Just seconds after the White Sox score flashed final, he went deep in the sixth inning on a 3-2 count to make it 10-2. This was Thome's 22nd homer of the season, estimated by the team's media relations staff at 452 feet. It tied him with Frank Robinson for eighth place on the career list with 586.

The ball soared over right field and past the American flag, traveling to almost exactly the same place his estimated 480-foot shot landed in Monday's game against the Royals. Thome has four home runs in his last three games.

After a little prompting from the Target Field crowd, Thome stepped out of the dugout and waved to the fans.

Josh Fields hit his first homer for the Royals after hitting 31 in stints with the White Sox over the last four seasons, and Alex Gordon made a diving catch in left field to steal a hit from Orlando Hudson for the first out of the fateful third inning.

But that was about all the Royals had to be happy about. They fell to a season-high 24½ games out of first place and a season-high 24 games under .500 (57-81). Right-hander Luke Hochevar struggled as much as Bannister, giving up five hits and three runs in three innings.

NOTES: Matt Tolbert hit his third triple in four days for the Twins, playing 3B again for Danny Valencia. Gardenhire wants to be cautious with Valencia's hamstring, and he might not be back until Friday. "I don't want this to turn into something where he really goes out there and pops it, and then we're done for the year," Gardenhire said. ... Royals prospect Clint Robinson finished his season for Double-A Northwest Arkansas with a Triple Crown, just the third winner in Texas League history. The 25-year-old native of Jefferson City, Mo., a 25th-round draft pick in 2007, hit .325 with 29 homers and 98 RBIs. ... Ben Revere hit for Denard Span in the sixth inning and replaced him in CF, making his major league debut for Minnesota. He struck out. ... Royals 1B Billy Butler left in the third with a bruised right hand. ... Twins LHP Brian Fuentes still felt stiffness in his back after pregame throwing and isn't ready yet to rejoin the bullpen.

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