- Associated Press - Wednesday, July 2, 2014

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - It started with a dropped popup and only got worse for James Shields and the Kansas City Royals.

Shields (8-4) allowed five runs on nine hits and the Royals fell 10-2 to Minnesota on Tuesday night, losing for just the second time on the road in their last 11 games.

Though it was Shields’ first loss in 10 starts, the right-hander has struggled recently, giving up 14 runs and failing to register a win in his last three starts.

“He’s just not sharp right now,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “He’s going through a streak right now, a pretty extended little streak, where he hasn’t been exceptionally sharp.”

Shields also failed to cover first base on a bases-loaded chopper to Eric Hosmer in the fourth. The blunder helped the Twins score three runs in the frame - capped by Joe Mauer’s two-run double - and open a 5-1 lead.

“I thought he was going home and it was kind of an in-between play,” Shields said. “He kind of made the throw to home and turned around and I wasn’t covering the bag right there. It’s my fault.”

In the third, left fielder Alex Gordon sprinted in and nearly collided with third-baseman Mike Moustakas before dropping Chris Pamelee’s one-out popup. Kendrys Morales singled home Eduardo Nunez and the Twins took a 2-1 lead.

Those types of mistakes and blunders haven’t helped Shields recover from his recent rough stretch after a strong start to the season. In his last eight starts, Shields has a 5.66 ERA and has allowed three or fewer runs only twice.

“It’s definitely frustrating that I’m not getting outs,” Shields said. “I’m not getting my job done.”

Yost says Shields’ struggles are simply part of a long season full of peaks and valleys. The manager pointed to Hosmer’s four hits on Tuesday as evidence that you never know when a slumping player will heat up.

Or in the case of Shields, cool off after a hot streak.

“Why do guys start hitting when they’re in a slump? There’s no answer to that,” Yost said.

Ricky Nolasco (5-6) earned his first win in five starts, allowing one run and eight hits in six innings.

Minnesota added five more runs in the sixth, helped by an error on second-baseman Omar Infante.

NOTES: Raul Ibanez started in right field for Kansas City and went 1 for 4. The 42-year-old was signed Monday after being released by the Angels on June 21. … Ibanez is the second oldest Royals player to get a hit in a game behind Bob Boone. . Mauer left the game with a strained muscle on his right side after his double in the fourth. . Twins RHP Kevin Correia (4-9, 5.08 ERA) faces LHP Jason Vargas (7-3, 3.53) in Wednesday afternoon’s series finale.

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

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