MINNEAPOLIS -- At long last, the Twins' losing streak to the Royals finally came to an end on Wednesday night. Minnesota rallied late with two runs in the seventh, keyed by an RBI double from Miguel Sano and a go-ahead single from Eduardo Escobar, to snap a seven-game skid against Kansas City with a 6-5 win at Target Field.
With the loss, the Royals dropped to 12-3 in the season series and remained four games back of the Orioles for an American League Wild Card spot.
"They all hurt now at this time of year, especially with everybody that's in the Wild Card race losing tonight," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "We had a chance to pick up ground. That definitely hurts. We'll just go to Chicago and win another series."
Brian Dozier fell short of establishing a club record with a homer in six straight games, but he helped spark the two-run seventh against reliever Joakim Soria with a leadoff single and a stolen base. Dozier scored on Sano's double off the right-field wall to tie it at 4. Escobar came through with the go-ahead hit with two out. Byron Buxton gave the Twins an insurance run with a homer in the eighth.
"I feel like when I hit one, we don't come out on the winning side," Dozier said with a smile. "But I'll tell you what, going against a team we've struggled tremendously against this year, it's good to get a win against them, especially going into an off-day."
Kendrys Morales paced the Royals' offense, going 3-for-4 with a homer, two RBIs and two runs scored. Morales got Kansas City on the board with an RBI single in the fourth before connecting on a solo blast in the sixth for a two-run lead.
Neither starter factored into the decision, as Royals lefty Danny Duffy went six innings, surrendering three runs (two earned) on eight hits with 10 strikeouts. The unearned run scored in the sixth with the help of Buxton's speed, as he scored from second on a grounder to shortstop Alcides Escobar, whose throw to first was offline. Twins right-hander Kyle Gibson also went six frames, surrendering four runs on eight hits. Minnesota closer Brandon Kintzler yielded a run in the ninth but still earned his 14th save. Reliever Alex Wimmers picked up his first Major League win with a scoreless seventh.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Grossman delivers: Making his first start since Aug. 28 after dealing with oblique soreness, Robbie Grossman made the most of his return, going 3-for-4 with a solo homer and a double. He got the Twins on the board with an RBI single in the first, and hit his first homer since Aug. 24 in the seventh. He led off the fourth with a double, but was stranded there.
"I felt like I had really good stuff tonight," Duffy said. "I executed just about as much as I could. Grossman's seeing the ball well off of me this year. I've got to figure something out with him. Other than that, I felt like I executed the ball really well. Even to Grossman, I threw some changeups that he didn't even offer at. He's a pretty good hitter."
Kendrys keeps raking: Morales continued to swing a hot bat as he homered for a third straight game and drove in two runs as part of a 3-for-4 game. His homer in the sixth inning was a solo shot that hit off the facing of the upper deck in right field and traveled an estimated 437 feet, according to Statcast™. He finished the three-game set with four homers and 10 RBIs and extended his hitting streak to a season-best 10 games. More >
"What sets me at ease a little bit, not having [Lorenzo] Cain in the lineup and not having Salvador [Perez] in the lineup, is that Morales has just been fantastic," Yost said. "I mean, just really fantastic. Just driving the ball off the wall, hitting the ball over the fence, just putting together great, productive, run-producing at-bats. We need that. We need a guy like him to carry us, and he sure is right now."
Royals bullpen can't hold on: After Kansas City saw four late leads evaporate on its last homestand, the relief corps once again slipped late as the Twins scored four runs to come from behind for the win. Soria was charged with two runs in the seventh after retiring only two of the five hitters he faced, with Sano's double and Escobar's hit coming against Matt Strahm. Kelvin Herrera allowed Buxton's homer in the eighth -- snapping a personal scoreless streak of 12 2/3 innings.
"You look at yourself and say, 'What's wrong? What am I doing wrong?'" said Soria, who has given up runs in three of his last five appearances. "For my part, I've been doing all I can by working out, by trying to stay in the best shape possible, and executing pitches. Other than that, it's just baseball. It's part of baseball life and sometimes you pitch good and sometimes you don't."
Dozier dazzles with glove: Dozier saw his streak of homering in five straight games end, but he showed he can be valuable in the field, too. The second baseman made a diving stop on a hard-hit grounder from Eric Hosmer in the fifth and was able to make the glove flip to Jorge Polanco to turn a highlight-reel double play to end the inning. More >
"It was a tough play and was hit sharply," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "It was an in-between hop he was able to handle with the dive. He works on that glove flip all the time with a little bit of wrist there and it was right on the money. It minimized the damage, especially with the way those guys are swinging."
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
With two pickoffs in the first inning, Gibson became the second Twins player with two pickoffs in an inning, joining Roger Erickson, who did it on May 23, 1978, against the Rangers.
AFTER FURTHER REVIEW
The Twins challenged a play in the first inning, when Jarrod Dyson was initially ruled safe at first on a pickoff attempt from Gibson. But after a review, the call was overturned.
WHAT'S NEXT Royals: Following Thursday's off-day, catcher Salvador Perez hopes to be back in the lineup for Friday's series opener against the White Sox at 7:10 p.m. CT. Right-hander Yordano Ventura (10-9, 4.22 ERA) enters riding a seven-start unbeaten streak. He has held opponents to three or fewer earned runs in 11 straight outings.
Twins: After an off-day on Thursday, the Twins open a three-game series with the Indians on Friday at 7:10 p.m. CT. Right-hander Tyler Duffey (8-10, 6.24), who was recalled from Triple-A Rochester on Tuesday, starts for Minnesota.