Minnesota Twins' Brian Dozier. Photo by Brian Kersey/UPI | License Photo
MINNEAPOLIS -- Struggling in all aspects of their game, the Minnesota Twins got it right offensively against the Kansas City Royals on Wednesday afternoon, salvaging the final game of a three-game series with a 7-5 win at Target Field.
Eduardo Nunez hit the second pitch of the game from Royals starter Dillon Gee over the fence in left field for his fourth home run and an early lead. It was the first career leadoff homer for Nunez, who had three hits on the afternoon
Two pitches later, Brian Dozier hit one into the second deck in left for his fifth homer and a quick 2-0 lead.
It was the fifth time in team history the Twins led off the game with back-to-back homers and the first time since Danny Santana and Dozier did it on June 9, 2014.
Miguel Sano, also slumping at the plate, had a two-run blast in the fifth inning that gave the Twins the lead for good.
"We saw people having a tough time get some big hits," said Twins manager Paul Molitor. "To see Brian get rewarded for all of the work ... Miguel, he's been fighting it too. It was good to see."
Santana's RBI single in the second inning gave Minnesota a 3-0 edge before Kansas City rallied in a five-run fourth inning to re-take the lead.
But Gee couldn't hold it, surrendering a run in the fourth and two more in the fifth before leaving the game without retiring a hitter in the bottom of the fifth inning.
"I just didn't make very good pitches today," Gee said. "All day, I just kind of battled with command. I'd make some good ones and strike a couple guys out and then I'd make some bad ones."
Gee (1-2) was charged with the loss, allowing six runs -- five of them earned -- on 10 hits and a walk in four-plus innings of work.
Twins starter Tyler Duffey struggled in the fifth but was otherwise solid, picking up his second win of the season. He allowed five runs on nine hits and a pair of walks but struck out five in 6 2/3 innings. Duffey (2-3) became the first Twins starter with two victories.
"They kept battling. I didn't have my best game. I felt good but I left some pitches over the middle," Duffey said. "But we won and that's the biggest thing. Heading into the off day that can create some momentum for us."
Twins fill-in closer Kevin Jepsen worked around a one-out double in the ninth for his fourth save.
"(Duffey) regrouped and extended out a little bit, gave us a chance," Molitor said. "We didn't have a lot of options (out of the bullpen)."
Alcides Esocbar had three hits and Eric Hosmer drove in a pair of runs for Kansas City, which won the first two games of the series. The Royals lost against the Twins for the first time this season (5-1) and saw their nine-game inning steak versus Minnesota dating back to last season snapped.
Trailing 3-0 against Duffey in the fourth, the Royals got a single from Whit Merrifield and a walk from Lorenzo Cain, setting the table for Hosmer, who ripped a two-run double to left.
Following a balk by Duffey, Salvador Perez continued his hot hitting with a double off the wall in right, plating Hosmer.
A strikeout and a ground out gave Duffey a chance to limit the damage further, but a two-out triple by Omar Infante knocked in Perez, and Infante scored on a wild pitch for a 5-3 lead.
Nunez doubled in a run in the bottom half of the inning before Sano's two-run blast into the second deck in left in the fifth gave the Twins the lead for good and ended Gee's afternoon.
"He just wasn't sharp," said Royals manager Ned Yost of Gee. "He really struggled to find his breaking ball, struggled with his command all day long. Just one of those days he just wasn't sharp."
Minnesota tacked on one more run on an RBI single by Byung Ho Park in the seventh.
NOTES: Royals 3B Mike Moustakas was not in the lineup for a third consecutive day because of a bruised knee. He will be reevaluated in Kansas City on Thursday. ... Twins OF Darin Mastroianni was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a strained left oblique. Mastroianni doesn't have a hit in nine at-bats with the Twins but has a walk and a stolen base in 14 plate appearances. ... Twins LHP Glen Perkins was transferred to the 60-day disabled list because of a setback in his recovery from a left shoulder strain. Perkins, who was placed on the disabled list on April 13, has pitched in only two innings this season. ... The Twins selected the contract of LHP Buddy Boshers from Triple-A Rochester. Boshers was 1-0 with a 1.42 ERA in 15 relief appearances with Rochester this season. ... The Royals will begin a four-game series against the Chicago White Sox on Thursday at Kaufmann Stadium. Chicago will send RHP Miguel Gonzalez (0-1, 4.57 ERA) to the mound against Kansas City LHP Danny Duffy (0-0, 2.13 ERA). ... The Twins are off on Thursday before beginning a six-game road trip in Seattle on Friday against the Mariners. Twins LHP Pat Dean (0-1, 3.86 ERA) will oppose Mariners RHP Felix Hernandez (4-3, 2.21 ERA).