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Royals let five-run slip away in ninth and lose 9-8 to Twins in 10 innings

Well, this losing streak might never end.

Justin Morneau capped a stunning Minnesota comeback Wednesday night with a leadoff homer in the 10th inning in a 9-8 victory over the Royals at Kauffman Stadium.

Morneau’s blast was a no-doubt bomb on Joel Peralta’s first pitch in the inning and sent the Royals to their 10th straight loss. It followed a five-run burst by the Twins with two outs in the ninth inning against Ramon Ramirez and Peralta.

Hard to believe.

Zack Greinke sent the Royals into the ninth inning with a five-run lead before Ramirez and Peralta gave it all back. The killer blow was a three-run pinch homer by Craig Monroe with two outs that carried just far enough to hook into the left-field seats.

It was a throwback to the late-inning nightmares fashioned in recent years by the likes of Ambiorix Burgos, Andrew Sisco and Mike MacDougal.

Manager Trey Hillman kept his closer, Joakim Soria, under wraps, apparently, because he threw a season-high 31 pitches in Tuesday’s loss.

Jesse Crain, 3-2, got a victory for a second straight night. Joe Nathan atoned for a blown save in Tuesday’s victory by pitching a scoreless 10th inning for his 14th save in 15 opportunities.

Ramirez started well enough. He struck out two of the first three hitters before everything unraveled.

Mike Lamb, Brendan Harris and Carlos Gomez each punched singles. That pulled the Twins to within 8-5 and prompted Hillman to summon Peralta to face Monroe, who batted for Alexi Casilla.

The count went to 3-0 before Monroe fouled off a pitch and swung through another. He connected on the full-count offering for his fifth homer of the season.

That homer snatched a victory away from Greinke, allowed Minnesota starter Livan Hernandez to escape with a no-decision and let Twins left fielder Delmon Young off the hook for some miserable defensive work.

Hillman stuck with Peralta to start the 10th even though he had allowed five hits in six previous career appearances against Morneau.

The Royals’ 10-game skid is their longest since losing 13 in a row from May 12-25, 2006. It is also the sixth longest losing streak in franchise history.

This one is hard to swallow.

The Royals, 21-32, finished with a season-high 16 hits and got a shutdown performance from Greinke, who limited the Twins to three runs and five hits in eight innings. He struck out eight and walked two while throwing a career-high 117 pitches.

Hernandez gave up eight runs and 13 hits in six-plus innings. So he was nothing like the guy who pitched seven shutout innings April 11 in his last appearance at Kauffman.

Even so, Hernandez had the game within reach — trailing just 3-2 — until Young committed two errors in a three-run fourth.

That seemed plenty for Greinke. And it was. It just wasn’t enough for the bullpen.

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