Jim Mone
August 13, 2016

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) Like the rest of the Kansas City Royals, this season has not been a smooth one for Yordano Ventura.

They started a series at Minnesota by winning the way they're designed to.

Ventura won consecutive starts for the first time in two months, Kendrys Morales homered in his return from a one-game suspension and the Royals beat the Twins 7-3 Friday night.

Ventura (8-9) struck out nine in seven innings, allowing four hits, one walk and three runs, throwing 105 pitches.

''He pitched a pretty good game,'' catcher Salvador Perez said. ''I think he just left a couple of pitches up.''

Ventura led the Royals to their fifth win in the last six games with a well-located fastball and a sharp curveball.

''Just focus and concentrate on making every single pitch,'' said Ventura, who posted a 5.15 ERA in the first half and has a 3.26 ERA after the All-Star break.

Miguel Sano homered for the fifth time in the last seven games and Brian Dozier hit a two-run shot, giving Twins starter Kyle Gibson (4-7) a one-run lead he took into the fifth inning. The Royals hit the ball plenty hard, but the softest one made the biggest impact.

Perez's bat broke on a two-strike, two-out, two-run bloop single with the bases loaded the gave the Royals a 4-3 lead.

''I hit it pretty good,'' Perez said, laughing.

Third baseman Trevor Plouffe awkwardly backpedaled for the slow-rising ball, but it cleared his head and landed in front of diving shortstop Jorge Polanco. Perez leads the team with 27 two-out RBIs.

''Those are the kind of breaks that have been going against us here a little bit,'' manager Ned Yost said. ''Doesn't have to be pretty. It just has to be effective.''

Eric Hosmer and Raul Mondesi hit RBI doubles for the Royals, and Paulo Orlando combined an RBI single with two lunging catches in center field to take hits from the Twins, who have lost four straight games after winning nine of 12 prior to the streak.

''They can play defense. We know that. That hasn't changed,'' manager Paul Molitor said.

The Royals are 6-1 against the Twins this season, with 12 games left between them. After a rough July that all but dashed their dream of returning to the playoffs and defending their World Series title, the Royals are 7-4 in August. Their starting pitchers have a 3.01 ERA.

After using eight pitchers, including utility infielder Eduardo Escobar, and giving up 25 runs to Houston while being swept Thursday in a doubleheader, the Twins needed Gibson to go deep into the game. He was removed two batters into the sixth.

The right-hander hasn't been able to get in a groove this season, though. His first-inning ERA is 9.00, and he has recorded quality starts of six innings or more and three runs or fewer only six times in 16 turns. Lefties are hitting .330 in 188 at-bats against Gibson.

''They put the bat on the ball. That's what they're known for,'' Gibson said.

Orlando is hitting .340 in 25 games since the All-Star break.

SUMMER SWATS

The Twins have a major league-most 63 home runs in 42 games since June 26, and Dozier leads both leagues in that span with 15 of his 24 homers.

WET WEATHER

The game started 50 minutes late because of steady rain that wiped out batting practice and lasted into the evening. This was the ninth weather-related delay at Target Field this year, a total of 11 hours and 54 minutes of waiting, plus a pair of postponed games including Wednesday.

In seven seasons at the ballpark, the Twins have had 30 games delayed and 14 games postponed.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Royals: Morales returned from a one-game suspension served Thursday following his dropped appeal to Major League Baseball. Kansas City's home run leader was punished for returning to the dugout following his ejection for arguing Aug. 2 at Tampa Bay about the strike zone.

Twins: LH Tommy Milone was placed on the DL with left biceps tendinitis, the third pitcher shelved for injury in three days. LH Andrew Albers was designated for assignment after the game so the team could call up another reliever for the game Saturday.

UP NEXT

Royals: Will keep RHP Dillon Gee (4-5, 4.54 ERA) in the rotation and start him Saturday, despite needing him in relief Wednesday in their 14-inning victory over Chicago. Gee struck out three in two perfect innings for the win.

Twins: Will send RHP Tyler Duffey (7-8, 5.93 ERA) to the mound for the second game of the series, his 20th start of the season. He struck out eight in six innings for the victory in his last turn, against Houston.

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