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Twins Squander Late Lead, Fall 4-3 To Kansas City

The Minnesota Twins keep finding new and creative ways to lose baseball games, and keep losing ground in the American League Central as a result.

The Twins took a 3-1 lead into the bottom of the seventh inning, but managed to squander it away, losing 4-3 to the Kansas City Royals on Friday night at Kauffman Stadium.

The Twins struck first in the top of the fifth inning on a solo home run by Luke Hughes, but the Royals tied it in the bottom of the frame when Alex Gordon's triple scored Melky Cabrera. The Twins took the lead back in the top of the sixth, when Jason Kubel and Justin Morneau started the inning with consecutive singles. After Michael Cuddyer's fly out, Danny Valencia doubled to bring both Kubel and Morneau around to score and make the score 3-1.  The Royals picked up a run in the bottom of the seventh to narrow the gap to 3-2.

Then, the bottom of the eighth inning happened.

With Alex Burnett on in relief, Jeff Francoeur struck out swinging to end the inning. Wilson Betemit then doubled, and an infield single by Kila Ka'ahiue put runners on the corners with one out. Jarrod Dyson came in to run for Ka'ahiue, and on his attempt to steal second, Drew Butera's throw wound up in center field, allowing Betemit to score and Dyson to move to third. Dyson then scored on a sacrifice fly to shortstop.

Yes, you read that properly. . .a sacrifice fly to the shortstop.

Alexi Casilla caught Alcides Escobar's pop-up in shallow left field, turned around, and threw a ball towards home plate that he could just as well have kicked Pele-style, allowing Dyson to score.

Joakim Soria set the Twins down 1-2-3 in the ninth, and the Royals got the victory.

Burnett took the loss for the Twins, his first decision on the season. Blake Wood got the win for the Royals in his first decision of 2011, and Soria's save was his sixth on the season.

Same two teams will get together tomorrow in Kansas City, with first pitch scheduled for 6:10 PM Central time. The Twins will send Brian Duensing (2-0, 3.00 ERA) to the mound, and the Royals will send Sean O'Sullivan (1-1, 4.20) to the hill.

Photographs by Micah Taylor, clairity, and Fibonacci Blue used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.