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Updated: April 27th, 2012 10:13pm
Twins lose again; 'If they lay down, they don't deserve to be here'

Twins lose again; 'If they lay down, they don't deserve to be here'

by Phil Mackey
1500ESPN.com
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MINNEAPOLIS -- As has been the norm so far this season, starting pitching once again failed the Minnesota Twins in a 7-6 loss to the Kansas City Royals on Friday night.

The skinny

Eighth-inning RBI singles by Mike Moustakas and Alcides Escobar -- off Brian Duensing and Jeff Gray -- turned out to be the decisive blows in a back-and-forth contest.

Twins starter Carl Pavano fell behind 2-0 before recording an out when Alex Gordon's two-run blast drove in leadoff man Jarrod Dyson, who reached safely when first baseman Justin Morneau bobbled a groundball.

The Twins tied the game 2-2 in the bottom of the first inning on an RBI triple by Joe Mauer, followed by an RBI single by Morneau.

A solo home run by Trevor Plouffe put the Twins up 3-2 in the bottom of the second inning, but Billy Butler's two-run blast vaulted the Royals back in front in the top of the third.

"I feel like it was location today," Pavano said. "I didn't think I was very sharp, and the balls I left over the plate, they hurt me. I didn't give up a ton of hits, but the hits I did give up were homers -- two two-run homers. That doesn't help at all. The biggest thing for me is the guys are giving me the lead, and I go and give it up."

Denard Span's two-out, RBI single tied the game 4-4 in the fourth, then Butler singled home Gordon to put the Royals back up 5-4 in the fifth. Alexi Casilla knotted the game at 5-5 with an RBI double in the sixth.

Pavano grinded through 6 1/3 allowing five runs (four earned) on six hits and a walk while striking out nobody.

"As a starting pitcher it's frustrating," Pavano said. "And that's me not doing my job. I've got to shut down inning after inning. When we're scoring runs, it kills the momentum of the team, and it gets the guys on their heels. It's not the way I wanted things to go tonight. ...

"I take it personally. I didn't do my job."

Left-hander Everett Teaford started in place of Danny Duffy, whose start was skipped due to elbow discomfort. Teaford allowed four earned runs on eight hits and two walks while striking out one in four innings.

After the Royals took a 7-5 lead, the Twins came to life again in the bottom of the eighth putting runners in scoring position with one out. Casilla drove in one with a groundout, but Span grounded out to end the threat.

The loss dropped the Twins (5-15) to the bottom of the American League Central.

"If they lay down, they don't deserve to be here," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "I don't think we're going to have anybody lay down. I think they're getting after it pretty hard, and they're rooting for each other pretty hard. Is it frustrating? Is it getting harder? Absolutely.

"We want to win a game. You need to shake hands. They need to do that quite a bit. There's still a long ways in this season to go. There's a lot of character out there in that clubhouse. Right now we need something to lift us up, and that's a bit hit to win a ballgame."

Turning point

The Twins appeared to get the best of former teammate Jose Mijares in the seventh inning, but a blown call halted the rally.

Mijares fell behind Jamey Carroll 3-0, then gave up a leadoff single. A few pitches later Mijares plunked Mauer in the back to put two on with nobody out.

Two batters later, Ryan Doumit hit a sinking line drive that diving right-fielder Jeff Francoeur appeared to trap on a short hop. Replays confirmed the trap, but first-base umpire Brian Gorman -- without the benefit of a replay -- called it a catch.

Because Mauer had already reached second base amid the confusion, Francoeur was able to double him off to end the inning.

Gardenhire came out to argue briefly, but the call stood.

"I tried to explain he had his glove to the ground," Gardenhire said. "It's kind of hard to catch a ball that way. But he said he caught it."

Numbers game

8: Walks issued by Gray in 9 1/3 innings.

17: Career triples for Mauer.

7: First-inning runs allowed by Pavano in five starts. According to Pitch F/X data, Pavano's sinking fastball and four-seam fastball are down in velocity and movement from last season. "It'd be nice to feel a little stronger out there," he said. Pavano looked at film after his start and determined he is "too rotational," which leads to him getting too far underneath the ball. As a result, his ball is flattening out.

1: Home run taken away from Danny Valencia, who was robbed by left fielder Gordon in the bottom of the second.

Health report

• 1B Chris Parmelee did not suffer a concussion after taking a fastball to the helmet on Wednesday. He is considered day-to-day and has a shiner around his left eye.

On deck

Saturday: vs. Royals, 6:10 p.m. RHP Jason Marquis (1-0, 7.15) vs. LHP Bruce Chen (0-2, 2.52)
Sunday: vs. Royals, 1:10 p.m. RHP Nick Blackburn (0-2, 7.53) vs. RHP Jonathan Sanchez (1-1, 6.75)

Phil Mackey is a columnist for 1500ESPN.com. He co-hosts "Mackey & Judd" from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Phil | @PhilMackey | Mackey & Judd
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