Kansas City, MO – Nick Blackburn returned from the disabled list to give the Twins five strong innings and Minnesota came from behind to beat the Royals, 4-2, and take the three-game series.
Blackburn (2-4) had not pitched since May 16 because of a strained left quad, but gave up only two runs on five hits and two walks over five innings.
"In the first inning, I was just over-thinking everything," Blackburn said. "Once I took my brain out of it, stop thinking about mechanics, I just went out there and took it one pitch at a time. I know that's a huge cliche, but I thought about what I needed to do here."
Minnesota relievers combined to pitch four scoreless innings, giving up only two hits without walking any Royals.
Ben Revere had two hits and scored twice and Justin Morneau had two hits, including the go-ahead two-run single in the fifth.
Royals starter Felipe Paulino left the game in the first after taking a line drive off the leg. Luis Mendoza (2-3) entered and pitched five innings, giving up two runs on five hits to absorb the loss.
Minnesota took the lead for good with a two-out rally in the fifth. After Alexi Casilla struck out and Darin Mastroianni popped out, Revere singled, Jamey Carroll walked and Josh Willingham was hit by a pitch. Morneau then singled to left-center, scoring Revere and Carroll to give the Twins a 3-2 lead.
The Twins got off to a fast start, scoring in the first inning. After Paulino threw out Revere after taking the line drive, Carroll reached base on an error by Yuniesky Betancourt, who was making his first start at shortstop this season. After a Willingham single and Morneau flyout, Paulino left the game.
"The first hitter lined one off his leg and he was fine with that," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "Then he got the popup to Morneau. When he broke to cover third base, he felt something in his groin. They're checking it and we're seeing exactly what it is right now. We'll find out more tomorrow."
Ryan Doumit greeted Mendoza with a chopper, which went off the glove of Eric Hosmer and plated the game's first run.
Betancourt atoned for his error with a two-run home run in the bottom of the first, giving the Royals a 2-1 lead.
Minnesota expanded its lead in the seventh. Revere started the inning the a triple to the right field gap. Carroll followed with a single to make it 4-2.
After Blackburn left the game, Jeff Manship, Jared Burton, Glen Perkins and Matt Capps combined for four scoreless innings, allowing only two hits and striking out five. In the process, Capps picked up his 14th save of the year.
Kansas City is 7-4 in rubber games...Paulino allowed his first run at Kauffman Stadium this season...Blackburn has allowed two runs on 18 hits in the first inning this season, and has given up at least one first inning run in seven of his eight starts this season...Blackburn induced just his third double play of the season; his 80 from 2008-2011 were fifth-most in the American League...Since 2011, Blackburn is 2-0 against the Royals with a 2.18 earned run average (four earned runs in 17 innings)...The Royals had only two at-bats with runners in scoring position and were held hitless; the Twins went 3-for-9 in those situations.