MINNEAPOLIS – Scott Diamond pitched eight solid innings, Trevor Plouffe homered and the Minnesota Twins beat the Kansas City Royals 7-2 in the opener of a day-night doubleheader Saturday.
Easily the Twins' most-effective starter since being called up in May, Diamond (7-3) allowed two runs and six hits to give Minnesota a big lift with another game coming up. Twins relievers entered with the third-most innings (268 1/3) in the majors behind the Royals (283 1/3) and Colorado (284 2/3).
Royals left-hander Jonathan Sanchez (1-4) didn't fare nearly as well. While Diamond cruised through Kansas City's lineup, Sanchez issued six walks and was done after 4 1-3 innings. Both starters finished with 101 pitches.
Minnesota strung together five consecutive hits to open a 6-0 lead in the fifth inning, including a strange RBI single from Brian Dozier.
With one out and runners on first and second, Dozier's grounder bounced off the ground behind him and rolled fair. While Sanchez and catcher Brayan Pena scrambled after the ball, Dozier sprinted safely to first and Ryan Doumit scored all the way from second.
Alexi Casilla added a two-run double and Denard Span had an RBI single before Royals manager Ned Yost brought in Vin Mazzaro.
Yuniesky Betancourt drove in Kansas City's first run with a groundout in the sixth. He also singled in a run in the eighth.
Diamond struck out four and walked two while pitching eight innings for the second consecutive start. Glen Perkins finished the seven-hitter.
Sanchez pitched five effective innings to win at the Los Angeles Angels in his first start of the season on April 8, but has struggled since that victory. He is 0-4 with a 7.19 ERA in his last nine starts.
NOTES: The doubleheader is to make up an April 28 rainout. ... Casilla had his fifth three-hit game of the season. ... Game 2 of Saturday's doubleheader will feature Minnesota's Cole De Vries against Luke Hochevar.