MINNEAPOLIS (AP) – Jason Vargas threw seven scoreless innings, Raul Ibanez homered in his second game for Kansas City and the Royals beat the Minnesota Twins 4-0 Wednesday.
Vargas (8-3) allowed four singles and two walks while striking out five, allowing only two runners from a diluted Twins lineup to reach second base.
Mike Moustakas and Jarrod Dyson hit RBI singles in the second inning against Kevin Correia (4-10), and that was all Vargas needed. With Joe Mauer missing, placed on the disabled list before the game because of a strained muscle on his right side, the Twins didn’t cause Vargas any trouble. They were shut out for the sixth time this season and lost for the seventh time in their last nine games.
The 42-year-old Ibanez signed Monday with the Royals, the team that first gave him a regular spot in the lineup all the way back in 2001. He had two hits and two runs in this game, including the solo shot to right field in the eighth. Ibanez was released by the Los Angeles Angels last month.
Eric Hosmer, who walked three times, added an RBI single in the ninth inning for insurance.
With rookie Yordano Ventura and now Danny Duffy joining the veteran trio of Vargas, James Shields and Jeremy Guthrie, who are all in the top 10 in the league in innings pitched, the Royals have a deep rotation that can keep them in the postseason chase all summer.
Vargas improved to 4-1 in his last eight starts, seven of which have counted as quality: six innings or more and three runs or less. Vargas also became the first Royals left-hander to win eight games or more before the All-Star break since Chris George in 2003.
Correia lowered his ERA to 4.95, the only time he’s had that mark under 5.00 since his first start of the year, after surrendering six hits and two walks in six innings while striking out three. The right-hander completed exactly six innings for the fifth consecutive turn, and he has allowed two runs or fewer in four of those starts.
But the second inning was the one that hurt, when five batters reached. He struck out Billy Butler to finish the frame with the bases loaded.
NOTES: The Royals swapped RH relievers Wednesday, calling up Casey Coleman from Triple-A Omaha and sending down rookie Michael Mariot, who gave up five runs Tuesday in his second appearance in as many days. … Chris Parmelee played 1B and batted third for Mauer. He had two hits and stretched his hitting streak to a career-long 12 straight games. … One of the runners to reach second base for the Twins was Sam Fuld, who was originally ruled out on a steal attempt to end the fifth inning. Manager Ron Gardenhire challenged the call, which was overturned. Gardenhire is 9 for 19 on challenges this season. … With a rest day for Royals CF Lorenzo Cain, SS Alcides Escobar batted leadoff for the first time this season.