Francisco Liriano pitched seven solid innings and Delmon Young drove in four runs, as the Minnesota Twins cruised to a 10-3 win over the Kansas City Royals in the middle contest of a three-game series.
Liriano (13-7), who remained unbeaten in 10 starts since the All-Star break, yielded two runs on seven hits with four strikeouts for the Twins, who have won five straight and increased their lead atop the AL Central to 4 1/2 games over the White Sox. Chicago lost to Detroit earlier Tuesday. J.J. Hardy delivered three RBI while Jim Thome homered and scored three runs in the victory.
“You go through good times and you want them to last as long as they can, and we all pick each other up at different times,” said Thome. “Now we need to focus on tomorrow’s game.”
Josh Fields homered for the Royals, who have lost five of their last six overall.
Brian Bannister (7-12) started on the hill for KC and suffered the loss after he allowed seven runs on eight hits with two walks over 2 2/3 innings.
After Hardy’s sacrifice fly in the second gave the Twins an early lead, they exploded for six runs in the third. Denard Span began the decisive bottom of the third with a single and stole second base before two straight outs ensued. Jason Kubel kept the inning alive with an RBI single before another base hit by Michael Cuddyer and a walk issued to Thome loaded the bases.
Young then stepped to the plate and ripped a two-run single to left field. Both Young and Thome advanced one base when Bannister uncorked a wild pitch and Hardy came through with the second two-run single of the inning. Matt Tolbert’s triple brought home Hardy and capped the uprising.
“They are a good team — they’re not leading this division for nothing,” said Royals manager Ned Yost. “They swing the bat, they catch the ball and they throw strikes.”
Fields’ two-out solo blast in the fourth got the Royals on the scoreboard.
In the bottom of the fourth, Young’s two-run double gave the Twins a 9-1 advantage. Orlando Hudson and Mauer both singled and came home on the hit by Young, his 96th and 97th RBI of the season.
KC’s other run came in the fifth when a Liriano wild pitch allowed Jai Miller to cross the plate.
Thome’s 22nd home run of the season and 586th of his career, a solo shot to right field, increased the cushion to 10-2.
Gregor Blanco’s RBI single in the top of the ninth capped the scoring.
Liriano has not lost at home since June 28 and improved to 7-3 at home this season…Minnesota has won 10 of its last 12 games overall…The Twins are now 47-23 at home in 2010…This was Bannister’s first start since he returned from the DL (shoulder tendinitis)…It was Fields’ first homer of the year…Royals first baseman Billy Butler left the game after being hit in the hand by a ground ball in the third inning.