KANSAS CITY — Alarmed at the way his hands seemed to be flying around in a shaky first inning, Kyle Davies consulted with Royals pitching coach Bob McClure and got some simple advice.
“He said, ’Don’t worry about it. Don’t think about that,’” Davies said.
So the 23-year-old right-hander didn’t. And he pitched three-hit ball into the seventh inning, combining with three Kansas City relievers to beat the Minnesota Twins 1-0 on a steamy Thursday afternoon.
“I went back out there and the next inning I was able to locate my fastball, my changeup, a slider and a curveball,” Davies said. “Maybe that’s the key — just don’t think about where they’re going to be and they’ll be where they need to be.”
Acquired in the trade that sent reliever Octavio Dotel to Atlanta, Davies (1-1) struck out five and walked two over 62/3 innings in his second start for Kansas City. He walked Alexi Casilla leading off the game and then retired 14 in a row before Jason Kubel doubled with two outs in the fifth.
“He kept us off balance the whole game,” Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire said. “He threw the heck out of the ball.”
Tony Pena Jr. doubled down the left-field line leading off the third for the Royals’ first hit off Matt Garza (1-3). Joey Gathright sacrificed and Jason LaRue hit a sacrifice fly to score Pena Jr.
Joakim Soria got four outs for his 12th save in 15 opportunities, helping Kansas City take two of three in the series. The Royals have won five of their last six rubber games in three-game series at home.
Garza went 62/3 innings, allowing four hits. He struck out six and did not walk a batter.
“Garza threw the ball very, very well,” Gardenhire said. “They figured out how to score one run off us and we couldn’t figure out how to score one off them.”
In his first start for Kansas City last Saturday, Davies lasted only three innings against the New York Yankees. He gave up five runs and six hits, including Alex Rodriguez’s 500th home run.
“The Yankees are beating up on everybody,” Royals manager Buddy Bell said. “I don’t think you can evaluate anybody facing them right now. Because of the way he competed, the kind of stuff he had, I was anxious to see him again. He didn’t let any of us down.”
Being a part of career milestones numbering 500 is becoming a pattern for Davies. His first victory with the Royals was win No. 500 in Bell’s managerial career.
“It means you’ve been around a while,” said Bell, whose overall record with Detroit, Colorado and Kansas City stands at 500-694. Bell is stepping down at the end of the season.
“How many games have we got left? About 50?” he said. “Maybe we can get another 40 tacked on. That would be nice.”
After allowing a two-out single to Torii Hunter in the seventh and walking the next batter, Davies was relieved by Zack Greinke and got a standing ovation as he walked to the dugout.
“Pretty cool. Pretty neat,” Davies said. “It’s gratifying because it was a whole team win. You win a game 1-0, you’ve done a whole lot of things good — pitching, the defense was awesome. We made some great plays in the infield.”
Casilla singled off Greinke in the eighth for the Twins’ final hit. With two on, Jimmy Gobble got Joe Mauer on a popup before Soria fanned Michael Cuddyer to end the threat.
The Twins were blanked for the 11th time this year, most in the majors. It was Kansas City’s fourth shutout.
After Pena’s double, Garza set down 13 straight before Mark Teahen singled in the seventh. Teahen, trying to stretch it into a double, appeared to beat the throw but was tagged out when his momentum carried him past the bag.
Cuddyer struck out four times. In his last seven at-bats, he’s hit into two double plays, struck out four times and been thrown out at second trying to stretch a single.
For the Twins, it was a quick return to the offensive woes that have dogged them for more than a month.