- Associated Press - Saturday, August 13, 2016

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - The Minnesota Twins have developed quite the power stroke this summer.

The starting pitching and situational hitting are still lagging far behind.

Yordano Ventura won consecutive starts for the first time in two months, Kendrys Morales homered in his return from a one-game suspension and the Kansas City Royals beat the Twins 7-3 Friday night despite home runs by Miguel Sano and Brian Dozier.

“We like the home runs. They play, for sure,” manager Paul Molitor said. “But we need to find some other ways to score.”

Sano went deep for the fifth time in the last seven games and Dozier hit a two-run shot, giving Twins starter Kyle Gibson (4-7) a one-run lead he took into the fifth inning. The Royals hit the ball plenty hard, but the softest one made the biggest impact.

Salvador Perez’s bat broke on a two-strike, two-out, two-run bloop single with the bases loaded the gave the Royals a 4-3 lead. Third baseman Trevor Plouffe awkwardly backpedaled for the slowly rising ball, but it cleared his head and landed in front of diving shortstop Jorge Polanco.

“It’s tough. He hit it into no-man’s land,” Gibson said.

After using eight pitchers, including utility infielder Eduardo Escobar, and giving up 25 runs to Houston while being swept Thursday in a doubleheader, the Twins needed Gibson to go deep into the game. He was removed two batters into the sixth.

“It’s a frustrating day,” Gibson said.

The right-hander hasn’t been able to get in a groove this season. His first-inning ERA is 9.00, and he has recorded quality starts of six innings or more and three runs or fewer only six times in 16 turns. Lefties are hitting .330 in 188 at-bats against him.

Ventura (8-9) struck out nine in seven innings, allowing four hits, one walk and three runs, pitching the Royals to their fifth win in the last six games. After posting a 5.15 ERA in the first half, Ventura has a 3.26 ERA after the All-Star break.

The Twins have a major league-most 63 home runs in 42 games since June 26, and Dozier leads both leagues in that span with 15 of his 24 homers. Sano has 20 home runs this season, including 16 against right-handers.

“It’s unfortunate that’s been the majority of our output as of late,” Molitor said.

Eric Hosmer and Raul Mondesi hit RBI doubles for the Royals, and Paulo Orlando combined an RBI single with two lunging catches in center field to take hits from the Twins, who have lost four straight games after winning nine of 12 prior to the streak.

The Royals are 6-1 against the Twins this season, with 12 games left between them. After a rough July that all but dashed their dream of returning to the playoffs and defending their World Series title, the Royals are 7-4 in August. Their starting pitchers have a 3.01 ERA.

WET WEATHER

The game started 50 minutes late because of steady rain that wiped out batting practice and lasted into the evening. This was the ninth weather-related delay at Target Field this year, a total of 11 hours and 54 minutes of waiting, plus a pair of postponed games including Wednesday.

In seven seasons at the ballpark, the Twins have had 30 games delayed and 14 games postponed.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Royals: Morales returned from a one-game suspension served Thursday following his dropped appeal to Major League Baseball. Kansas City’s home run leader was punished for returning to the dugout following his ejection for arguing Aug. 2 at Tampa Bay about the strike zone.

Twins: LH Tommy Milone was placed on the DL with left biceps tendinitis, the third pitcher shelved for injury in three days. RH Trevor May visited a specialist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, for his lower back trouble. More testing is needed.

UP NEXT

Royals: Will keep RHP Dillon Gee (4-5, 4.54 ERA) in the rotation and start him Saturday, despite needing him in relief Wednesday in their 14-inning victory over Chicago. Gee struck out three in two perfect innings for the win.

Twins: Will send RHP Tyler Duffey (7-8, 5.93 ERA) to the mound for the second game of the series, his 20th start of the season. He struck out eight in six innings for the victory in his last turn, against Houston.

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