Nolasco pitches well, but Perkins blows save as Royals overtake Twins
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Royals were trailing the Twins by a run in the ninth inning Tuesday night, and Kansas City manager Ned Yost was on the top step of the dugout, conferring with catching coach Pedro Grifol about the potential decisions he would have to make.
That's when Yost heard a voice pipe up.
"The bat boy who never says anything turns around and says, `Esky is going to get a hit and Gordo's taking him in the fountain," Yost said. "I said, `OK. Sounds like a pretty good plan."
One that worked out perfectly, too.
Alcides Escobar led off with a blooper to shallow right for a single, and Alex Gordon swatted the second pitch he saw over the right-field wall to give the AL Central-leading Royals a dramatic 2-1 victory over Minnesota -- and help them avoid their first three-game skid since mid-July.
"Got a slider over the plate and put a good swing on it," Gordon said. "Really didn't have any offense going all night and was able to muster up something, so that was great."
The Royals had been shut down all night by Ricky Nolasco, who scattered three hits over seven innings. But after going quietly in the eighth, they managed to break through against Perkins (3-1), who had converted 18 consecutive saves on the road.
"We had a really good game out of Ricky. I feel bad for him because he pitched seven shutout innings and threw the ball well," Perkins said. "He and the team don't have anything to show for it. It's not a fun feeling."
Wade Davis (7-2) earned the win with a perfect ninth inning in relief.
Danny Duffy was nearly as sharp for the Royals as Nolasco was for Minnesota. The left-hander allowed four hits and a pair of walks over 6 2/3 innings, but was in line for the loss after giving up a double to Brian Dozier and a slicing single to Joe Mauer to start the seventh.
The Royals had several chances to push a run across much earlier -- and with much less drama.
Billy Butler was hit by pitches from Nolasco on two occasions, and the first time -- in the second inning -- he advanced to third before getting stranded. Christian Colon was left standing on second in the third inning, and Jarrod Dyson was picked off first base in the sixth.
Dyson was also picked off first base in Monday night's 1-0 loss to the Yankees.
The Twins also had opportunities to push across an early run. Trevor Plouffe grounded into inning-ending double plays in the second and fifth, and Danny Santana was picked off first base in the fourth. Eduardo Escobar was stranded at second base in the sixth.
Those missed chances proved to be important when the ninth inning rolled around.
"I don't think anybody saw that coming," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said, "a bloop and a blast and a big walk-off for them."
There were only 13,847 fans in attendance, and the empty seats certainly caught Yost's eye. "We're in a pennant race," he said. "We've been working hard to try to make our fans happy and make our fans proud of us for a lot of years, and we'd like them out here to enjoy a night like this with us, because this was a special night. A fun night. I just wish there could have been more out here to enjoy it with us."
Nolasco may have benefited from a warm, muggy night at Kauffman Stadium, where the temp at first pitch was 91 degrees. He'd been battling a flu bug that's been going through the clubhouse. "The heat may have helped him," Gardenhire said. "He sweat some of that out."
Twins: OF Byron Buxton, one of baseball's top prospects, is headed for the Arizona Fall League. Buxton is still recovering from post-concussion symptoms -- primarily headaches -- that he sustained after an outfield collision at Double-A New Britain on Aug. 13.
Royals: RHP Yordano Ventura will miss his start Wednesday night with soreness in his back, and 2B Omar Infante could miss a couple days with shoulder inflammation. "Everybody is dealing with something this time of year," Yost said. "My feet hurt."
Twins: RHP Phil Hughes (14-8, 3.65 ERA) tries to win his fifth straight when he faces Kansas City for the fifth time this season.
Royals: RHP Liam Hendriks makes his Royals debut after arriving in a trade from Toronto. Hendriks spent his first three seasons with Minnesota. "It'll be interesting," Hendriks said of facing his former team. "It could be really good or really bad."© The Associated Press