MINNEAPOLIS — David Lough.
You can stop right there in summarizing the Royals’ wild 9-8 victory over the Minnesota Twins on Sunday at Target Field.
There was more, of course. Just-returned Johnny Giavotella had three hits (and a sparkling defensive play). Eric Hosmer delivered a homer that proved to be the winning run. Alcides Escobar contributed a key two-run single.
But this game belonged to Lough, who became the first Royals player in nearly 13 years to match a franchise-record four extra-base hits in a game.
“I don’t think I’ve ever had a day like that in the minor leagues,” he said. “I can’t remember ever having a day like that.”
Wait … you’d remember a day like that wouldn’t you?
“Yes, that’s true,” Lough confessed. “So I guess I haven’t.”
His one-out homer in the eighth broke a 7-7 tie after the Royals blew leads of 5-1 and 7-4. That came after doubles in his first three at-bats, which contributed to a two-run third, a three-run fourth and a two-run sixth.
“David Lough is a guy who has always played well for me,” manager Ned Yost said. “Everywhere I’ve seen him, every time I’ve seen him. From three years ago. That was as big of a homer as you can hit today.”
Lough’s homer was a 378-foot drive against Jared Burton, 1-5, after the Twins pulled even with a three-run seventh against Tim Collins and Aaron Crow.
“I was just looking to get on base, really,” Lough said. “That pitch was right in my wheelhouse. I couldn’t ask for a better pitch than that.”
Eric Hosmer provided the Royals with a key insurance run in the ninth with a leadoff homer against Josh Roenicke.
Hosmer’s blast — his sixth in his last 66 at-bats — enabled Greg Holland to serve up a leadoff homer to Trevor Plouffe in the Minnesota ninth before closing out the victory for his 17th save in 19 chances.
Holland struck out the last three batters.
Crow, 5-3, got the victory as the Royals, 38-41, gained a split in the four-game series and pulled to within 4½ games of American League Central Division co-leaders Detroit and Cleveland.
“They've got some hitters over there,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “Those guys can swing the bats. I know they haven't been consistent doing it, but they've got some good young hitters who can pop a baseball.”
The last Royals player to pop four extra-base hits in a game was Johnny Damon, who had four doubles on July 18, 2000 in a 12-4 victory over the Cubs at Kauffman Stadium.
It happened only three other times in franchise history: Hal McRae in 1974, George Brett in 1979 and Lonnie Smith in 1986.
“It was one of those games,” Lough said, “where our offense was going to have to put together some runs. We needed pick our pitching up because they kept battling back.”
Royals starter Ervin Santana survived some early command issues and a rocky three-run fifth before handing a 7-4 lead to Collins to start the seventh inning.
It got messy in a hurry.
Ryan Doumit reached on a infield single, and Justin Morneau followed with a no-doubt homer to right. Collins then walked Plouffe and, after a force at second, walked Chris Parmelee.
When the Twins inserted Josh Willingham as a pinch-hitter, the Royals countered by going to Crow.
Willingham rocked a game-tying double on a drive to left that hopped over the wall. Crow kept the game tied by striking out Pedro Florimon and retiring Clete Thomas on a grounder to short.
Lough untied it the following inning.
Giavotella contributed to those rallies in the third, fourth and sixth innings with two singles and a double. It marked an encouraging first game since his recall from Class AAA Omaha.
“I’m glad that I could contribute and help the team win,” Giavotella said. “I couldn’t say enough about how D-Lough did today in getting on base for me. All I had to do was hit a line drive to get him in.
It’s kind of what we do in Triple-A. He usually hits one, and I hit two (in the lineup). It wasn’t anything different for us (while batting eighth and ninth). We’ve had some good games down there like this one today.”
Santana carried a 5-1 lead into the fifth before finding trouble. Florimon led off with a single, Thomas, who had struck out in his two previous at-bats, crushed a two-run homer to right.
Doumit reached on a one-out error by Escobar at short, and Plouffe reached on a two-out error by third baseman Mike Moustakas.
Those errors turned into another run when Oswaldo Arcia grounded an RBI single up the middle. Santana finally ended the inning when Parmelee grounded out to Giavotella at second.
“It was a tough game,” Santana said. “I didn’t have my best stuff today. When that happens, you just get through it and keep pitching. I made enough good pitches, and gave my team a chance to win.”
The lead was down to 5-4, but the Royals counter-punched in the sixth after reliever Ryan Pressly replaced starter Kevin Correia.
Lough pulled a one-out double to right — his third double of the game. Giavotella followed with a bloop into left for a double for his third hit. Lough had to wait to ensure the ball dropped and only reached third.
The Twins chose to load the bases by walking Alex Gordon, but Escobar spoiled the strategy by lining a two-run single to left. Giavotella got a great read on the ball and just beat Arcia’s throw to the plate.
“That was a (baseball) play by them,” Escobar said. “They were looking for a double play. It was a right-handed pitcher, and I’m right-handed. I was just looking to put the ball in play. Even a ground ball, but I got a base-hit.”
The Royals led 7-4, but it wasn’t enough. It took homers by Lough and Hosmer to put away the Twins.
“I had a big swing,” Hosmer said, “but it just backed up Gio and D-Lough with the days they had. They carried our offense.”