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First-place Royals complete sweep of Twins

  • Kansas City Star
  • Published Wednesday, April 10, 2013, at 11:16 p.m.

— Wet, cold, miserable and happy.

The Royals continued their early-season roll Wednesday night by completing a three-game sweep of the Minnesota Twins with a 3-0 victory in brutal conditions at Kauffman Stadium.

Wade Davis, Bruce Chen and Kelvin Herrera combined on a seven-hit shutout while Billy Butler and Jeff Francoeur hit home runs in support.

Butler’s blast was a 417-foot drive through the mist in the first inning against Minnesota starter Liam Hendriks. That was the only scoring until Francoeur opened the seventh with a homer against reliever Josh Roenicke.

The Royals added another run in the seventh on successive one-out singles by Chris Getz, Alex Gordon and Alcides Escobar.

That was it.

The Royals are 6-3 after extending their winning streak to four games. They also lead the American League Central Division by 1 1/2 games. Sure, it’s April, but first place is first place.

Davis (1-0) worked the first five innings and scrambled around a lot of early trouble that inflated his pitch count. Chen followed with three terrific innings before Herrera pitched the ninth for his second save.

Herrera got the call largely because closer Greg Holland threw 27 pitches Tuesday in a stress-filled inning. Herrera gave up a two-out double to Joe Mauer but struck out the side.

The Twins had chances throughout the evening but were zero for 10 with runners in scoring position and stranded 11 runners.

The Royals carried a 1-0 lead into the seventh inning, which began with center fielder Lorenzo Cain muffing Aaron Hicks’ routine leadoff fly for a two-base error.

Chen pitched around the miscue by retiring their next three batters — Mauer, Josh Willingham and Justin Morneau on routine fly balls.

Francoeur then opened the bottom of the inning by golfing a 1-2 curve from Roenicke into the Royals’ bullpen beyond the left-field wall for a 2-0 lead.

Brian Duensing replaced Roenicke with one out for left-on-left matchups but surrendered successive singles to Getz and Gordon. That brought Casey Fien into the game to face Escobar.

That didn’t work either.

Escobar lined a single into left for a 3-0 lead.

Those extra runs loomed larger when Chen surrendered a one-out triple in the eighth to Trevor Plouffe on a drive to deep center that Cain reached but couldn’t hold after slamming into the wall.

But Chen pitched around that, too, by striking our Chris Parmelee and Brian Dozier on six pitches.

Davis worked through major trouble in the first two innings, but the effort forced his exit after the fifth. He gave up four hits, all singles, while walking three and striking out six before handing a 1-0 lead to Chen.

Hendriks (0-1) surrendered a two-out homer in the first inning to Butler but nothing more in his five innings. He pitched out of a bases-loaded jam with one out in the second inning.

Davis opened the game by striking out Hicks and Mauer before the wheels started coming off. The Twins loaded the bases on two walks and a single before Davis escaped when Plouffe popped to first.

Butler’s two-out homer later in the inning staked the Royals to a 1-0 lead before Davis ran into more trouble in the second.

Singles by Parmelee and Dozier opened the inning before Davis loaded the bases by hitting Pedro Florimon.

Davis escaped again by striking out Hicks and Mauer for the second time each before retiring Willingham on a pop to short.

The Royals returned the favor by blowing a bases-loaded chance with one out in their second when Getz struck out and Gordon flied out to left.

Davis worked an up-and-down third before the Twins threatened again in the fourth when Dozier drew a one-out walk, after working back from a 1-2 hole, and reached second on an error.

Escobar failed to hold the throw from catcher Salvy Perez, which arrived in plenty of time after a pitchout. Davis ended the inning by retiring Hicks on a fly to center.

Perez opened the Royals’ fourth with a double over Willingham’s head in left, but Hendriks struck out Hosmer on three pitches and Francoeur on four pitches. Cain ended the inning by grounding to short.

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