Minneapolis, MN – Luis Mendoza tossed a career-high eight innings of one-run ball and Jonathan Broxton escaped a jam in the ninth as the Kansas City Royals edged the Minnesota Twins, 4-3, in the opener of a four- game series at Target Field.
Mendoza (3-4) scattered five hits, did not walk a batter and struck out five to earn his first win since May 13, snapping a span of seven winless appearances (four starts).
"Earlier in the year he was really struggling the third time around [the lineup], but he just walked right through them," Royals manager Ned Yost said about Mendoza.
Broxton gave up two runs in the ninth, but left the tying run on third base to record his 20th save of the year.
Salvador Perez homered while Yuniesky Betancourt had two hits, an RBI and a run scored for the Royals, who stretched their win streak up to four games.
Brian Duensing (1-4) allowed three runs on eight hits over four-plus innings to take the loss for Minnesota, which dropped its third straight.
Broxton entered for the ninth and quickly walked Denard Span before giving up a base hit to Ben Revere to bring the tying run to the plate with no outs.
Joe Mauer then slapped a double into left field to plate Span and Josh Willingham followed with a grounder to short that scored Revere, bringing the Twins within 4-3.
Justin Morneau's fly out to center field placed the tying run on third with two outs, but Trevor Plouffe popped up Broxton's next pitch towards the third base side and Mike Moustakas made the catch in foul territory to end the game.
"That's the way it goes sometimes. They got one more big hit than we did," Twins shortstop Jamey Carroll said.
Kansas City jumped out to the early lead when Alex Gordon led off the game with a double, advanced to third on a Moustakas ground out and came home on Billy Butler's single.
Perez's one-out blast over the right-field wall in the second extended the Royals' lead before Plouffe reached first on a fielder's choice, advanced to second on a wild pitch and came home on Ryan Doumit's base hit to left in the bottom of the frame to make it a 2-1 game.
Kansas City would add to its lead in the fifth inning after Betancourt followed back-to-back singles by Alcides Escobar and Gordon with a double to left-center field, scoring Escobar and knocking Duensing out of the game.
Anthony Swarzak entered in relief and induced a pop up to short by Moustakas before intentionally walking Butler to load the bases. The Royals would not be able to capitalize, though, as Jeff Francoeur's grounder back to the mound saw Swarzak threw home for the force and Eric Hosmer's fly out to center field ended the inning and kept the score 3-1.
The Royals then loaded the bases with two outs in the seventh inning before Hosmer singled in Betancourt to extend their advantage as Mendoza retired the last 13 batters he faced.
Doumit received a two-year, $7 million extension with Minnesota earlier Friday...Mendoza threw 71 of his career-high 115 pitches for strikes...Duensing fell to 6-3 in 18 career meetings with Kansas City.