Jason Kubel and Jim Thome both homered in the bottom of the fifth inning, as the Minnesota Twins clipped Kansas City, 5-4, in the opener of a three-game series at Target Field.
Thome, who now has 585 career home runs, one shy of Frank Robinson for eighth place on the all-time list, added an RBI double.
Fresh off a three-game sweep of AL West-leading Texas, Minnesota maintained its 3 1/2-game lead over Chicago in the AL Central. The White Sox beat Detroit in extra innings on Monday.
Kevin Slowey returned from a trip to the 15-day disabled list to start for the Twins and gave up two runs on seven hits in four innings. He landed on the DL with a right triceps strain after throwing just three frames against the Angels on August 21.
Jeff Manship (2-0) worked two innings to get the win.
Brayan Pena drove in two runs for the Royals, who have lost 18 of their last 22 games to Minnesota. Sean O’Sullivan (2-5) yielded five runs on seven hits and five walks in 4 2/3 innings.
Pena recorded a run-scoring groundout in the second and Chris Getz followed with an RBI double to give Kansas City a 2-0 lead.
The Twins got a run back in the bottom of the inning on a sacrifice fly by Matt Tolbert, then tied the game on Thome’s double in the fourth before seizing the lead in the next frame.
Joe Mauer hit a one-out single in the fifth and Kubel followed with a blast to left-center field. After Michael Cuddyer grounded out, Thome launched a pitch to right to give Minnesota a 5-2 advantage.
“Two pitches changed the whole game,” O’Sullivan said.
The Royals trimmed their deficit with two runs off Manship in the sixth. Back- to-back doubles by Alex Gordon and Pena produced a run. Pena then took third on a sacrifice and came home on a Yuniesky Betancourt groundout.
Kansas City had a base runner in both the seventh and eighth innings, but failed to move him into scoring position.
Matt Capps pitched a flawless ninth for his 36th save of the season. It was his 10th as a member of the Twins.
“It’s been a lot of fun,” Capps said about his time in Minnesota. “Hopefully, we keep playing good baseball and it remains fun.”
Cuddyer went 1-for-4 to extend his hitting streak to 11 games…Kansas City’s Billy Butler singled in the third, giving him a hit in 96 straight series, which ties the club record set by Willie Wilson from 1979-81…Minnesota is 10-3 against the Royals in 2010.