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August 15, 2009

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Royals keep Twins from moving up

THE table was set for the Minnesota Twins to get right back into the race in the American League Central.

The division-leading Detroit Tigers were in Boston for a tough four-game series, and the Twins had the bottom-feeding Kansas City Royals under the big white roof that always seems to shelter them from their problems on the road.

Instead, Minnesota's season of inconsistency and mediocrity continued against the lowly Royals, and a golden opportunity swirled right down the drain.

Gil Meche was victorious in his return from the disabled list and the Royals dealt the Twins a major setback in the division with a 5-4, series-clinching victory in Minneapolis on Thursday.

Meche (5-9) gave up four runs on seven hits in five innings of his first start since July 11, and the Royals took two of three at the Metrodome for the second time this season.

The Tigers lost three of four to the Red Sox, but none of that mattered thanks to the Royals.

The third-place Twins started the week five games back and will open a series against the Cleveland Indians in the same position.

"When they're losing we need to win," Justin Morneau said. "It's a little frustrating when you go through that, when we have the chances and we don't get it done."

Elsewhere in the AL, it was: Rangers 4, Indians 1; Tigers 2, Red Sox 0; and Yankees 11, Mariners 1.

In the National League, it was: Brewers 12, Padres 9; Phillies 6, Cubs 1; Rockies 10, Pirates 1; Marlins 9, Astros 2; and Reds 7, Nationals 0.

In Minneapolis, Joe Mauer had a double, a homer and four RBI and Orlando Cabrera extended his career-high hitting streak to 22 games. But Minnesota left nine runners on base in the game and went 2-for-12 with runners in scoring position.

Willie Bloomquist had two RBI and Alex Gordon hit his third homer of the season against Carl Pavano (10-9). The Royals had not beaten an AL team in a series of at least three games since they took two of three in the Metrodome on May 1-3.

"It has been a long time even in calendar days," manager Trey Hillman said. "But because of the lack of success of the team, it seems even longer."

Meche strained his lower back in an outing against the Red Sox and needed two rehab appearances in the minors before he was activated on Thursday.

He ran into trouble in the fifth, giving up the three-run homer to Mauer that cut Kansas City's lead to 5-4. But the Royals bullpen pitched four shutout innings, including two from closer Joakim Soria, who picked up his 19th save.

"Coming to Minnesota and taking a series, obviously you're doing something right," Bloomquist said. "So we'll take it, build on it and move forward."


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