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Updated: July 20th, 2012 10:59pm
Joe Mauer gets 3 hits; Nick Blackburn sharp as Twins beat K.C. in 11

Joe Mauer gets 3 hits; Nick Blackburn sharp as Twins beat K.C. in 11

by The Associated Press
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Joe Mauer went 3-for-4 and scored the winning run in the 11th inning to lead the Minnesota Twins to a 2-1 victory over the Kansas City Royals on Friday night.

The skinny

Casey Fien (1-0) worked two perfect innings to pick up his first major-league victory. Glen Perkins worked around Alcides Escobar's leadoff double in the bottom of the inning to pick up his fifth save in eight opportunities.

Greg Holland, the third Kansas City pitcher, worked out of a 10th-inning jam.

Darin Mastroianni led off with a triple to right. Holland stranded him by retiring Alexi Casilla on a grounder with the infield in, then struck out Ben Revere and Jamey Carroll. Holland struck out four in two innings.

Nick Blackburn, who was just recalled from Triple-A Rochester, held the Royals to one run and seven hits over 6 2-3 innings, while walking none and striking out two.

"I just finally put it all together," Blackburn said. "I was missing a lot of spots, but with movement as opposed to just floating it in there. One mistake hurt me tonight. Other than that I was pretty pleased with it."

Blackburn was demoted to the minors on July 4 after going 4-5 with an 8.10 ERA in 13 starts and allowing 90 hits in 63 1-3 innings. After going 2-0 with a 2.57 ERA in two International League starts, he was recalled and replaced Brian Duensing. Duensing was sent back to the bullpen after going 0-4 with a 10.13 ERA in four starts.

"That was a great performance," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said of Blackburn's outing. "It was desperately needed by him, for him. He made it look effortless.

"It's something he's been working on. He said he was going to stay light on his front side and let the ball come out of his hand. He did it with all of his pitches - good changeup, good sinker and a good slider."

Blackburn did not reach a three-ball count on any of the 27 batters he faced.

"For the most part, I kept the ball on the ground and there wasn't a whole lot of great contact," Blackburn said. "I felt the movement was keeping guys off balance. It's definitely confidence boosting."

Kansas City starter Luke Hochevar, the first overall pick in the 2006 draft, retired the last 10 batters he faced, and gave up five hits, all with two outs, in seven innings. He struck out six and walked none, throwing 67 strikes in 109 pitches.

Hochevar is 3-1 with a 2.68 ERA in his past seven starts. Mastroianni homered to left in the second inning on a 3-1 pitch, the only run Hochevar gave up.

Yuniesky Betancourt's two-out double to left in the seventh scored Eric Hosmer, who led off the inning with a single, for the only run Blackburn surrendered.

Twins reliever Jared Burton, who worked a scoreless eighth, has not given up a run in his past 14 appearances, covering 14 2-3 innings.

Turning point

Mauer led off the 11th with a double off Jonathan Broxton (1-2) and scored on Josh Willingham's single to right.

Numbers game

.359: Mauer's career batting average at Kauffman Stadium.

.334: Mauer's batting average after he had three hits on Friday.

6.51: Earned-run average for Twins starters during a 2-5 homestand that ended Thursday. The starters went 1-4 during the seven games.

Health report

Twins third baseman Trevor Plouffe left Friday's game because of a bruised right thumb and is listed as day-to-day.

On deck

Saturday: @ Royals, 6:10 p.m. LHP Scott Diamond (8-3, 2.96 ERA) vs. RHP Luis Mendoza (3-6, 4.32)

Sunday: @ Royals, 1:10 p.m. RHP Sam Deduno (0-0, 5.59) vs. RHP Jeremy Guthrie (3-9, 6.35 with Colorado)

Monday: @ White Sox, 7:10 p.m. LHP Francisco Liriano (3-9, 4.81) vs. To be determined

© The Associated Press