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Royals tumble again in 6-4 loss to Twins

MINNEAPOLIS _ There was no drama Saturday morning that the Royals might succumb to a no-hitter, Nope. Mike Sweeney took care of that again, only this time in the first inning.

The end result was roughly the same, though. Another loss.

Minnesota coasted to a 6-4 victory after batting around in a four-run fifth inning that erased a one-out deficit and knocked out Brandon Duckworth.

The Royals scored once in the eighth against Pat Neshek but did little else in the closing innings. Joe Nathan got the final four outs for his 29th save in 31 opportunities.

Mike Redmond’s two-run double capped the decisive fifth-inning burst and helped batterymate Carlos Silva improve to 11-13. Silva gave up three runs and eight hits in six innings before the Twins’ bullpen closed out the victory.

Duckworth, 2-4, was activated prior to the game and made his first big-league appearance since June 13. He wasn’t helped by a pair of errors in his 4 1/3 innings, but he also yielded eight hits, three walks and hit a batter.

The 11:10 a.m. start was due to the need to reconfigure the Metrodome for a college football game at 7 p.m. between Minnesota and Bowling Green. It must be changed back for baseball in time for the series finale at 1:05 p.m. Sunday.

Sweeney was booed loudly each time he came to the plate after ending Scott Baker’s no-hit bid in the second game of Friday’s double-header with a one-out pinch single in the ninth inning.

Sweeney made sure Silva wouldn’t throw a no-hitter, either, by lining a one-out single to center in the first. That moved Joey Gathright to second, but Silva struck out Alex Gordon and retired Billy Butler on a grounder to short.

The Royals finished with 11 hits, including two apiece from Sweeney, Butler, Shane Costa and Tony Peña. They also got a homer from Gordon that produced a 3-2 lead in the top of the fifth.

Not enough.

The Twins countered with a balanced attack in which eight of their nine starters either had a hit or scored a run. Redmond and Luis Rodriguez each had two hits.

The Royals fell to 60-75 and need a victory today to gain a split in the four-game series before heading to Texas for three games.

Sweeney made his first start since June 17 after rejoining the active roster Friday following his recovery from knee surgery. His return initiated what projects as a month-long experiment to gauge Butler’s ability to play first base on a regular basis.

Butler had no problems Saturday and even made a couple of nice defensive stops.

Duckworth started the Minnesota fifth by hitting Jason Bartlett with a 1-2 pitch. Torii Hunter tied the game when he sliced an RBI double into the right-field corner.

The Royals trapped Hunter between second and third for the first out on Justin Morneau’s hopper back to the mound.

Then it fell apart.

Michael Cuddyer lined a single into center that Gathright failed to field cleanly. The error allowed Morneau to reach third. Jason Kubel followed with an RBI single into center for a 4-3 lead.

That finished Duckworth. In came Neal Musser, recalled earlier in the day from Class AAA Omaha. Redmond promptly yanked a two-run double past third that made it 6-3.

All six runs were charged to Duckworth.

To reach Bob Dutton, Royals reporter for The Star, call (816) 234-4352 or send email to bdutton@kcstar.com.

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