"It's huge," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "It's as big a game as you're going to play in early July, because very seldom do you have the opportunity to make it a two-game swing. And with this win today, we go back to four and a half instead of two and a half, so it was a huge game. And we played it like that in our mind. This was a big game."
Hosmer doubled in Lorenzo Cain, who led off the ninth with a walk. Cain also scored the game-winner in Friday's walk-off win. Hosmer had not had an extra-base hit since he homered on June 19 and was hitting .200 since then.
"You look at it and we very easily could've won all four and in our minds we should've, but in the end we just split," Twins second baseman Brian Dozier said. "I don't know. It just seems like in the two wins they had everything that possibly could've went their way, went their way."
Right-hander Ervin Santana made his Minnesota debut after serving an 80-game suspension for PED use. Facing his former team, Santana gave up just three hits in eight strong innings, striking out eight.
Left-hander Danny Duffy made his third start back from a stint on the disabled list for the Royals. He went 6 1/3 innings and gave up five hits and two runs.
"It felt good out there," Duffy said. "It feels like I'm back."
Alex Gordon homered for the Royals, his 10th this season.
Aaron Hicks homered for the Twins in the third inning, his second this season.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Santana sharp in debut: Any worries about rust from Santana after his long layoff went away, as the right-hander went eight innings, giving up two runs on three hits and three walks. He was efficient, as he threw 93 pitches, but was stuck with a no-decision. More >
"It was good," Santana said. "I just made one mistake. But it's all right. I just kept battling and kept the ball down for the most part."
He Drew it up like that: Seldom-used Royals catcher Drew Butera came through with a clutch hit in the third inning. After a leadoff walk to Omar Infante -- just his fourth walk all season -- Jarrod Dyson sacrifice bunted, a curious strategy with Butera coming up next. But Butera answered by punching an 0-2 slider on the ground into center field to score Infante.
Sano gives Twins early lead: Miguel Sano continued his hot start to his career with a long RBI double off the wall in center field in the second inning to score Trevor Plouffe, who led off with a double. Sano, ranked as the No. 9 overall prospect by MLBPipeline.com, has picked up hits in all four games since being called up from Double-A Chattanooga.
"It was solid," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "The first ball he gets is an off-speed pitch to try to get him to roll it over, but he stays inside it and hits it off the wall."
Gordon's drive: The Royals had major troubles with Santana's slider all day. But Santana did toss up a spinner in the fifth inning that floated over the middle of the plate and Gordon got just enough of it to sneak it over the wall in the right-field corner, tying the score at 2. Gordon also made two stellar diving catches in the win. More >
Yost thought about giving Gordon a rest Sunday but decided against it.
"It just shows you how smart a manager I am because last night I barely slept trying to decide who could I give a day off to, because Cain is beat up, Gordy is worn down, they're all worn down," Yost said. "And [Alex] Rios was worn down, and my initial thought was I was going to give Gordy the day off, and I'm laying there and I'm thinking, 'Well, geez, Gordy had a couple of good at-bats last night, and his defense is … we'll just maybe have to find another day to give Gordy a day off. With Santana on the mound, as tough as he is against right-handers, about 4 o' clock in the morning, I decided I'd play Gordy, so that worked out really nice."
WHAT'S NEXT Twins: Right-hander Phil Hughes will start the opener of a three-game series against the Orioles on Monday at 7:10 p.m. CT. It'll also mark the Target Field debut for top prospect Sano.
Royals: Right-hander Edinson Volquez gets the ball to open a four-game set against the Rays on Monday at 7:10 p.m. CT. Volquez is 2-0 with a 2.66 ERA career against Tampa Bay. He is 5-2 with a 3.21 ERA at home this season.