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Twins rough up Meche and send Royals to a 6-4 loss

MINNEAPOLIS | The euphoria of the Royals’ three-game sweep in Detroit is fading fast after a second straight loss Saturday to the Minnesota Twins.

Gil Meche gave back an early two-run lead in 6-4 loss at the Metrodome.

It was a strange outing for Meche. He was dominant for extended stretches but paid dearly for an inability to handle former MVP Justin Morneau in RBI situations.

Morneau crushed a three-run homer in the fourth inning that gave the Twins a 3-2 lead. His RBI double fueled a three-run sixth that knocked out Meche.

The Royals acknowledged earlier in the week that they were lucky to get out of Detroit before the Tigers’ potent lineup stirred to life. Unfortunately, they seemed to have arrived in Minnesota just in time for Morneau to awaken from a zero-for-12 skid to start the season.

Morneau had an RBI single Friday in the Twins’ 4-3 victory before his muscle-up flex against Meche.

The Royals, 3-2, must now win Sunday’s series finale to avoid a sweep and return home with a winning record. They open their home schedule Tuesday afternoon against the New York Yankees at Kauffman Stadium.

Minnesota starter Livan Hernandez improved to 2-0 after giving up four runs and seven hits in seven innings. Matt Guerrier and Joe Nathan closed out the victory as the Twins evened their record at 3-3.

Nathan got his third save of the season and second of the series.

Meche, 0-1, gave up six runs and six hits in 5 2/3 innings. He yielded six or more runs in only four his 34 starts in 2007.

Ross Gload and Alex Gordon each had two of the Royals’ nine hits. Mark Grudzielanek was zero for four after going eight for 16 in the first four games.

As in Friday’s loss, the Royals took the early two-run lead.

Gload opened the third inning with a single up the middle. He went to second on a balk and scored on Alberto Callaspo’s triple into the right-center gap.

Callaspo was nearly thrown out at third, but Mike Lamb couldn’t hold the throw. Callaspo then scored on Joey Gathright’s sacrifice fly to short left when catcher Joe Mauer couldn’t hold the throw from Delmon Young.

Meche seemed in complete command as he worked three brisk innings before finding trouble in the fourth after Matt Tolbert grounded a leadoff single up the middle. A walk to Mauer put runners at first and second before Morneau rocked a three-run homer to deep center.

That quickly a 2-0 lead turned into a 3-2 deficit.

It soon got worse.

Callaspo couldn’t hold Tolbert’s leadoff liner to short in the sixth. The result was a single, and Tolbert went to second on Mauer’s sacrifice bunt. Morneau then ripped an RBI double into the right-center gap for a 4-2 lead.

The Twins weren’t done.

Jason Kubel’s two-out broken-bat liner eluded Gload at first for an RBI single before Craig Monroe lined an RBI double into left-center gap. That made it 6-2 and finished Meche.

The Royals finally stirred again against Hernandez in the seventh. José Guillen led off with a single and went to third on Gordon’s one-out single. Both runners scored when Miguel Olivo pumped a double into the right-center gap.

The chance for a bigger inning fizzled when Olivo was thrown out at third when trying to advance on Gload’s grounder to deep short.

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