KANSAS CITY — Alex Gordon hit a two-run homer in the ninth inning to give Kansas City a 2-1 win over the Minnesota Twins and help the Royals avoid their first three-game skid since mid-July.
The Royals had been shut down all night by Ricky Nolasco, who scattered three hits over seven innings. But after going quietly in the eighth, the American League Central leaders managed to break through against closer Glen Perkins (3-1) in the ninth.
Alcides Escobar led off with a blooper to shallow right for a single, and Gordon followed by swatting the second pitch he saw over the right-field wall for his 10th homer.
Wade Davis (7-2) earned the win with a perfect ninth inning in relief.
Danny Duffy was nearly as sharp for the Royals as Nolasco was for Minnesota. The left-hander allowed four hits and a pair of walks over 6 2/3 innings but was in line for the loss after giving up a double to Brian Dozier and a slicing single to Joe Mauer to start the seventh.
The Royals had several chances to push a run across much earlier, and with much less drama.
Billy Butler was hit by pitches from Nolasco on two occasions, and the first time — in the second inning — he advanced to third before getting stranded. Christian Colon was left standing on second in the third inning, and Jarrod Dyson was picked off first base in the sixth.
The Twins also had opportunities to push across an early run. Trevor Plouffe grounded into inning-ending double plays in the second and fifth, and Danny Santana was picked off first base in the fourth. Eduardo Escobar was stranded at second base in the sixth.
Twins: Ooutfielder Byron Buxton, one of baseball's top prospects, is headed for the Arizona Fall League. Buxton is still recovering from post-concussion symptoms, primarily headaches, that began after an outfield collision at Double-A New Britain on Aug. 13.
Royals: Right-handed pitcher Yordano Ventura will miss his start Wednesday night with soreness in his back, and second baseman Omar Infante might miss a couple days with shoulder inflammation. "Everybody is dealing with something this time of year," manager Ned Yost said. "My feet hurt. I'm just telling you."
Twins: Phil Hughes (14-8, 3.65 ERA) tries to win his fifth straight when he faces Kansas City for the fifth time this season. He allowed one run over 7 1-3 innings in their last meeting.
Royals: Liam Hendriks makes his Royals debut in place of Ventura after arriving in a trade from Toronto. Hendriks spent his first three seasons with Minnesota. "It'll be interesting," Hendriks said of facing his former team. "It could be really good or really bad."