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Updated: June 6th, 2012 10:30pm
Justin Morneau delivers go-ahead hit as Twins take series from Royals

Justin Morneau delivers go-ahead hit as Twins take series from Royals

by The Associated Press

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Nick Blackburn shook off a slow start and pitched five effective innings, helping the Minnesota Twins beat the Kansas City Royals 4-2 on Wednesday night.

The skinny

Justin Morneau hit a go-ahead, two-run single with two out in the fifth as Minnesota won for the fourth time in five games. Morneau, Ben Revere and Ryan Doumit each had two hits.

Blackburn (2-4), who was making his first start since coming off the disabled list following a left quad strain, allowed two runs and five hits. He threw 92 pitches while lowering his ERA from 8.37 to 7.75.

"To be a part of a win when they didn't have to score seven for me is big, to be a part of a low-scoring win," Blackburn said. "I want to help this team out more."

Yuniesky Betancourt hit a two-run homer in the first, but that was it for the Royals. Blackburn attributed the shaky first to a recurring problem.

"It's the same thing I've been going through for a while," he said. "I'm thinking too much. In the second inning I told myself to take my brain out of it a little. I was thinking about the same thing too much. To be a part of a win when they didn't have to score seven for me is big, to be a part of a low-scoring win.

"I needed to go out there with confidence. Obviously, I was not trusting my stuff. Tonight was a big step in that direction in trusting my stuff."

Four Twins relievers combined for four innings of two-hit ball, with Matt Capps tossing a perfect ninth to log his 14th save in 15 opportunities.

Royals right-hander Felipe Paulino faced four batters in the first inning before leaving with a strained right groin. Paulino was injured on his 13th and final pitch, retiring Morneau on a fly ball. He will be evaluated in the next few days.

Paulino, who began the season on the disabled list with a right forearm strain, is 3-1 with a 1.67 ERA and had not allowed a run in four of his first six starts.

Luis Mendoza (2-3) came in and pitched five innings, yielding two runs and five hits.

The Twins scored an unearned run in the first after shortstop Betancourt committed an error. Doumit's double brought home Jamey Carroll, who reached on Betancourt's third error in five games.

Turning point

Morneau's bases-loaded hit in the fifth scored Revere and Carroll, giving the Twins a 3-2 lead. Revere also tripled and scored on Carroll's single in the seventh for the final Twins run.

Numbers game

• 14: Consecutive at-bats without a hit for Twins CF Denard Span, who was held out of the Twins lineup.

• 10: Consecutive games in which Twins LF Josh Willingham has hit safely after his first-inning single. He's hitting .361 in that stretch.

• 3: Consecutive series wins for the Twins, who still have the worst record in the American League.

Health watch

• C Joe Mauer, who has a career .348 batting average against the Royals, did not play in the three-game series because of a sprained right thumb. Mauer hasn't swung a bat since the injury Sunday, but has been able to catch bullpen sessions.

On deck

• Thursday: Off.
• Friday: vs. Chicago Cubs, 7:10 p.m. Twins RHP P.J. Walters (2-1, 3.69 earned-run average) vs. Cubs LHP Travis Wood (0-2, 4.56).
• Saturday: vs. Chicago Cubs, 1:10 p.m. Twins LHP Scott Diamond (4-1, 1.86 ERA) vs. Cubs RHP Jeff Samardzija (5-3, 3.13).

© The Associated Press