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Royals go quietly in 5-0 loss to Twins

The wind-chill factor was below freezing Friday night when Royals starter Gil Meche delivered the first pitch against the Minnesota Twins. It only got worse.

A lot worse for the Royals.

Minnesota veteran Livan Hernandez outpitched Meche for the second time in six days as the Twins opened the three-game series with a 5-0 victory at Kauffman Stadium.

Hernandez improved to 3-0 by blanking the Royals on seven hits in seven innings. Jesse Crain and Joe Nathan each pitched one inning in completing the shutout.

The Royals have now lost two in a row, falling to 6-4, in large part because of an increasingly silent attack. They have scored just one run in their last 20 innings and are one for 11 in that span with runners in scoring position.

Meche, 0-2, probably deserved better.

Some shaky defense contributed to the Twins’ four-run second inning. Meche recovered sufficiently to work through the sixth before exiting after 107 pitches. That helped save the bullpen at least.

Carlos Gomez led Minnesota’s eight-hit attack with a two-run double and a triple -- the Twins’ first triple of the season. Matt Tolbert had three singles and drove in a run.

The game was played in brutal cold with a stiff wind blowing from the northwest that kept the flags in right field snapping at full extension. The crowd was announced at 16,691 paid. However many there actually were, they were hardy.

Hernandez allowed runners in each of the first five innings but made pitches when necessary. His best effort came in the fifth after the Royals loaded the bases with one out. Hernandez struck out José Guillen and retired Billy Butler on a grounder to short.

The Twins, 5-5, won two of three when the teams played last weekend in Minneapolis.

Since the Royals didn’t score, they obviously didn’t score first -- the first time that hasn’t happened since their season opener March 31 in Detroit.

Meche gave up four runs in the second, all earned but all also aided by defensive shortcomings.

Delmon Young led off with a walk and stole second with one out before going to third on a wild pitch. Brendan Harris walked, but Meche struck out Mike Lamb.

Denard Span sliced a single past shortstop Alberto Callaspo for the game’s first run. Callaspo got the start because Tony Peña is mired in a one-for-27 slump. But Peña has better range and, perhaps, makes the play and keeps the game scoreless.

Gomez followed with a liner to left that Mark Teahen misjudged, breaking in initially before retreating. The ball sailed deep for a two-run double. Tolbert’s line-drive single into center made it 4-0.

The Twins extended their lead to 5-0 in the third and defense had nothing to do with it. Justin Morneau hit Meche’s first pitch into the Royals’ bullpen for his third homer of the year.

All three have been against the Royals.

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

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