Twins unable to shake KC, hold in WC chase

Twins unable to shake KC, hold in WC chase

KANSAS CITY -- Alex Gordon belted a tying homer in the seventh and Eric Hosmer providing a go-ahead single as part of a three-run eighth as the Royals rallied for a 5-2 win over the Twins on Saturday night at Kauffman Stadium.

The loss snapped Minnesota's three-game win streak, and moved Kansas City 3 1/2 games behind the Twins for the second American League Wild Card spot. The Twins maintained their two-game lead over the Angels, who dropped an 8-1 decision to the Mariners.

"It's a big win," Hosmer said. "We need something to get us going. Tomorrow, we can even out the series."

With the score tied at 2 in the eighth, Twins reliever Ryan Pressly gave up a leadoff single to Lorenzo Cain and a walk to Melky Cabrera, bringing on lefty Buddy Boshers to face Hosmer. Hosmer, though, smacked a single back up the middle, scoring pinch-runner Terrance Gore, for the Royals' first lead since the opening frame. Salvador Perez provided an insurance run with a double off Tyler Duffey and Alcides Escobar added a sacrifice fly off Alan Busenitz.

Perez's RBI double

"Just trying to see something up," Hosmer said. "With Terrance in the game, you know they're not going to throw anything low because he can take the extra base, so you look for something up."

Junis' seven-strikeout outing

Royals right-hander Jakob Junis was solid in a no-decision, surrendering two runs on eight hits over 6 1/3 innings. He was hurt by homers from Eduardo Escobar in third and Byron Buxton in the sixth. It was Escobar's sixth against the Royals, which is the most against Kansas City this season. He's also tied for the AL lead with five homers in September.

"[Junis] just had it all going for him tonight," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "He works that slider both sides of the plate and spots his fastball. He gave us just what we needed. We were thin in the back end of the 'pen. He gave us depth."

Escobar's solo jack

Twins right-hander Jose Berrios, who was 0-6 with a 7.17 ERA over his last eight road starts, pitched well, allowing two runs on eight hits over seven innings. But he couldn't hold the lead in the seventh, surrendering a two-out solo homer to Gordon.

Gordon's game-tying home run

"It was a changeup that was outside and wasn't middle, but he was looking for it," Berrios said. "The last game, he got the same pitch and he hit it between first and second so he was waiting, and he got it."

Minor makes major impact: The Twins threatened against reliever Mike Minor in the eighth with a leadoff single from Joe Mauer and a sacrifice bunt from Jorge Polanco. But Minor escaped trouble, striking out Eddie Rosario before serving Buxton's first career intentional walk. Rookie Mitch Garver entered as a pinch-hitter to face the lefty, but he grounded back to Minor to end the inning.

Minor gets out of jam

Buck shot: Buxton, who is nursing a bruised left hand, entered the game mired in an 0-for-20 slump, but he broke out of it with a single in the fourth. But it was his next at-bat that proved to be pivotal. After falling behind in the count, 0-2, Buxton worked it full before pulling a solo shot down the left-field line for a 2-1 lead.

"I'm just trying to do what I can and not overdo it," Buxton said. "He left a fastball back over the middle of the plate and I had enough time to react to it and put a good swing on it. I just want to go out and play as much as I can so it's something I just have to deal with."

"Until someone tells them they don't have a chance, they're not going to stop. That's their mindset with the way Ned runs his team and the guys they have out there. They have some guys banged up. We knew they'd come back and be ready to play tonight, and they came back and found a way to steal one in the last three innings." -- Twins manager Paul Molitor, on the Royals

The Royals challenged an out call on a stolen base attempt of second base by Rosario in the fourth inning. The call was overturned when it was ruled Rosario's lead foot came off the bag as he was being tagged by second baseman Whit Merrifield. It was a big overturn as the next two Twins hitters singled.

Perez throws out Rosario

Royals review specialist Bill Duplissea has made good on a Major League-best 22-of-29 challenges.

"That was huge," Yost said. "That play looked funny to me, too. Billy was right on it."

Twins: Right-hander Bartolo Colon (6-11, 6.06 ERA) will start the series finale against the Royals on Sunday at Kauffman Stadium. Colon has posted a 3.94 ERA in 10 starts since joining the Twins, and he allowed two runs over 6 2/3 innings vs. the Rays last time out.

Royals: Left-hander Jason Vargas (14-10, 4.23) will start the finale of this crucial series against the Twins on Sunday at 1:15 p.m. CT. Vargas, who made his first All-Star Game this season, has struggled mightily since July 5, going 2-7 with an 8.13 ERA.

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Jeffrey Flanagan has covered the Royals since 1991, and for since 2015. Follow him on Twitter @FlannyMLB.

Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and Facebook.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.