Royals try to avoid Twins' brooms

( - Jason Vargas tries to continue his solid start to the season on Sunday when the Kansas City Royals try to avoid a three-game sweep at the hands of the Minnesota Twins at Target Field.

Vargas was terrific in a no-decision in Detroit to start his year, but was even better his next time out in a win over Tampa Bay, as he held the Rays to a run and four hits over eight innings to lower his ERA to 1.20 on the year.

"He pitched great but he also gave our bullpen a much-needed break," Kansas City manager Ned Yost said. "His ability to command a baseball and change speeds was very evident today but he works in such a professional manner on the mound. He works quick, he keeps everybody in the game. He's around the strike zone. He can pitch effectively in, he can pitch effectively away, change speeds and really keep a good offense off-balance."

Vargas is 2-3 lifetime versus the Twins with a 5.28 ERA in nine games (8 starts).

Minnesota, meanwhile, will hand the ball to veteran righty Kevin Correia, who is 0-1 with a 6.17 ERA. Correia pitched well his first time out, but was rocked by Oakland on Monday to the tune of six runs and nine hits in 5 2/3 innings.

"His location wasn't there," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "He was out and over the plate against this team. I think after they scored a few runs, he started pounding inside, and his last couple innings were better because of that. But you can't be out and over the plate against these guys."

Correia may struggle again on Sunday, as he is 0-3 in six starts versus the Royals with a 5.29 ERA.

On Saturday, Joe Mauer completed a six-run second inning with a three-run homer, Ricky Nolasco turned in eight stellar innings for his first win of 2014, and Minnesota cruised to a 7-1 victory. Brian Dozier homered, drove in two and scored twice for the Twins, who have won four of their last seven.

Nolasco (1-1) held KC to a run on five hits, while fanning four with one walk. Michael Tonkin, summoned from the minors prior to the game, finished the contest with a scoreless ninth.

Lorenzo Cain's RBI double stood as the lone offense for the Royals, losers in four of their last six.

James Shields (0-2) was tagged in defeat for six hits and seven runs, striking out five and walking three over 5 2/3 frames.

The Twins should have Gardenhire back on the bench Sunday, as the manager missed the first two games of this set because he was at the funeral of Michael Hirschbeck, the 27-year-old son of former umpire John Hirschbeck.

The Royals dominated their season series with the Twins last year, winning 15 of the 19 meetings while posting an 8-2 mark in Minnesota.

Minnesota hasn't swept the Royals since winning four straight from June 2-5, 201