- Associated Press - Thursday, July 31, 2014

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - Eduardo Nunez was caught straying too far from first base. Sam Fuld was picked off first the next inning. Brian Dozier was thrown out while foolishly trying to score on an errant throw.

Three outs, all made on the base paths by the Minnesota Twins in the span of a couple innings, and all proving costly in a 3-2 loss to the Kansas City Royals on Wednesday night.

Asked whether the miscues haunted him, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire replied: “Sure they do.”

No need to elaborate.

Josh Willingham homered in the second inning for Minnesota, and Danny Santana drove in another run in the seventh. But the Twins left runners on second and third later when Kelvin Herrera struck out Dozier and Willingham to preserve the Royals’ one-run lead.

That’s probably haunting Gardenhire, too.

Wade Davis worked a perfect eighth, and All-Star closer Greg Holland survived two wild pitches that sent Eduardo Nunez to third base by striking out Fuld for his 28th save.

“Anytime you lose a battle like that it’s frustrating, especially with game on line,” Fuld said. “Holland made a great pitch. We battled him.”

Phil Hughes (10-8) showed no lingering effects from a comebacker off his right ankle that cut short his last outing. He allowed only three singles before the sixth inning, when the Royals were able to finally string together a series of hits that gave them the lead.

Omar Infante led off the sixth with a single and Salvador Perez added a tying double moments later. Alex Gordon followed with an RBI double to center, and Mike Moustakas pulled another run-scoring double just inside the first-base line to give Kansas City a 3-1 lead.

The Royals’ bullpen and defense made each run seem huge.

Perez made the first of several memorable plays in the third inning, when he picked Nunez off first base with a snap throw. Duffy picked Fuld off first in the fourth - “A great pickoff move. He caught me,” Fuld said - and Dozier was thrown out easily on his base-running blunder.

“We steal second and third, he takes off running home. He doesn’t know where the ball is,” Gardenhire said. “He just took off. I’m going to ask him what he was thinking there. He said he didn’t hear anything. Well, obviously you just don’t run. That’s not a good play.”

Meanwhile, Perez’s best defensive play may have come in the seventh, when the big catcher leaped from the behind the plate to grab a sacrifice bunt and throw the runner out at first. Herrera followed with his strikeouts to leave the go-ahead run standing on second.

“That was a big play right there,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “A great play by Sal.”

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