Twins use long ball to even series with Royals

Kansas City Royals starting pitcher Dillon Gee throws to the Minnesota Twins in the first inning of a baseball game on Saturday, Aug., 13, 2016, in Minneapolis.(AP Photo/Andy Clayton-King)

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Brian Dozier’s milestone home run led to his first career curtain call and a satisfying win for the Minnesota Twins.

Dozier hit his 25th homer of the season and the 100th of his career, leading Tyler Duffey and the Twins over the Kansas City Royals 5-3 Saturday night and ending a four-game losing streak.

After slumping badly to start the season, Dozier has been one of the top hitters in the majors for almost two months. He’s hit 17 homers since June 25, most in the majors over that span, and he’s even baffled a Hall of Fame hitter with his surge.

“I’m not sure what it feels like to be in the groove that he’s in,” said Twins manager Paul Molitor, who got 3,319 hits in big league career.

“I know back there in May he talked about having a couple days where he worked on some things, some things started to click, and it’s been an extended period now where he’s been one of the better offensive players in the league,” he said.

Dozier doubled to lead off the first inning and scored on the first of Robbie Grossman’s three hits. In the sixth inning he followed Eddie Rosario’s two-run shot with a towering drive deep into the second deck in left.

Teammate Eduardo Escobar pushed Dozier out of the dugout to acknowledge the crowd after he circled the bases.

Just don’t ask him to explain his turnaround.

“If I had a clear-cut answer I’d tell you,” Dozier said. “You make adjustments, you start seeing the ball, you stay behind the ball . everything feels very comfortable.”

For the second time this season, the Twins homered three times off Royals starter Dillon Gee (4-6), who gave up five earned runs on 11 hits and one walk in 5 1/3 innings.

“The first five innings … we were battling pretty good and the curveball was good,” Gee said. “We were able to battle our way through five, and in the sixth it just fell apart.”

Duffey (8-8) won for the third time in three starts this month. He allowed two runs on six hits in seven innings, striking out six.

His outing was especially timely given the recent troubles of Minnesota’s starting staff. In the previous three games, Twins starters lasted a combined 10 innings.

“The more that the short outings get compounded, the more that it taxes your team collectively,” Molitor said. “You need a little relief. Long starts are right up there with off days.”

Ryan Pressly pitched a scoreless eighth and Brandon Kintzler allowed an unearned run in the ninth but held on for his 11th save in 12 chances.

Cheslor Cuthbert hit his 10th home run of the season in the third inning to tie it at 1. But Grossman hit a leadoff home run in the fifth to put the Twins on top for good.

CUTHBERT CRUSHING

Cuthbert took over third base for the injured Mike Moustakas in late May, and the rookie has been on a tear since the All-Star break. After going 1 for 4 on Saturday he’s hitting .336 since July 15. He also had four straight multihit games earlier this week and hasn’t gone hitless in consecutive games since June 15-16.

BULLPEN SHUFFLE

The Twins switched lefties in their bullpen on Saturday, calling up Ryan O’Rourke from Triple-A Rochester and designating Andrew Albers for assignment. O’Rourke had a 4.91 ERA in eight appearances with the Twins earlier this season. Albers made one appearance for the Twins this season, giving up five runs in six innings of relief in the second game of a doubleheader against Houston on Thursday.

UP NEXT

LHP Hector Santiago will try to earn his first victory for the Twins on Sunday. Santiago (10-6), acquired from the Angels in a four-player trade on Aug. 1, has allowed eight earned runs in 10 1/3 innings in his first two starts for Minnesota, both losses. He’ll face RHP Edinson Volquez (8-10), who is 0-2 with three no-decisions since July 9.

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