Twins' bats can't back Correia in rubber game

Right-hander fires six solid innings, but he labors in key two-run 2nd

Twins' bats can't back Correia in rubber game

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Twins just can't seem to be able to find any traction offensively over the last two weeks.

A day after busting out for 10 runs, the offense fell flat yet again in a 4-0 loss to the Royals on Wednesday afternoon in the rubber game at Target Field.

After reaching double digits for just the fourth time this season in their 10-2 win on Tuesday, the Twins were hopeful the offensive eruption would carry over. Instead, the offense continued its recent struggles, as the club was shut out for the sixth time this year and for the second time in the last week.

The Twins seemingly can't put it all together and match their strong pitching performances with any offense, and it's led to a funk that has them matching a season-worst seven games under .500 at 38-45.

"We're streaky right now in all aspects and we need to put two and two together," second baseman Brian Dozier said. "We thought being at home, we could match up with Kansas City. They played good so you have to tip your cap, but we just need to hit."

Right-hander Kevin Correia took the hard-luck loss after allowing two runs on six hits and two walks over six innings. Correia has pitched well of late with a 3.50 ERA over his last nine starts, but he has been saddled with five losses over that span and leads the American League with 10 losses on the season.

"I was comfortable early in the year, but I wasn't getting the results," Correia said. "But I was confident I'd turn it around and get the results. But at the end of the day, you're trying to win a ballgame and it didn't happen today."

The Royals scored their two runs against Correia in the second inning with Mike Moustakas and Jarrod Dyson providing back-to-back RBI singles. But Correia settled down from there, retiring 13 of the final 16 hitters he faced before coming out after throwing 108 pitches.

"Kevin gave us an opportunity," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "His pitch count [108] got high, but he hung in there. He got through six innings and gave us an opportunity to win."

Kansas City didn't score again until the eighth inning on a solo homer from Raul Ibanez off reliever Casey Fien. It was the fourth homer of the year for the 42-year-old, and his first since re-joining the Royals for a second stint on Monday.

The Royals added an insurance run in the ninth inning on an RBI single from Eric Hosmer off closer Glen Perkins.

"You're just really hoping to tack-on one run or two somewhere over the course of that game because if one guy gets on, they're one swing away from tying the ballgame up," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "So when Raul hit that home run, that was a huge run."

It was enough offense for Royals left-hander Jason Vargas, who tossed seven scoreless innings to pick up his eighth win this season. He scattered four hits -- all singles -- and two walks with five strikeouts.

"I was able to keep the ball down early, and that helped me later when I was able to elevate a few and miss with a couple other pitches," said Vargas, who is 2-0 with a 0.86 ERA in three starts against the Twins this year. "Just good rhythm and tempo out there, we had a good thing going, and guys were making plays behind us."

The Twins didn't have many scoring chances against Vargas, as they went 0-for-2 with runners in scoring position. Trevor Plouffe grounded out to shortstop with two runners on and two out in the fourth, while Dozier grounded out to third to end the fifth to strand Sam Fuld, who stole second on a play that was overturned by instant replay.

The lack of offense handed the Twins the series loss and their seventh defeat over their last nine games. Minnesota scored more than four runs in just two of those nine games.

"We didn't really get any runners on to begin with," Dozier said. "Usually it's a problem with a lack of hits with runners on. So, we need to hit and we're not doing it."

Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, and follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.