Six-run eighth sends Royals past Twins

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - In the first seven innings, the Kansas City Royals mustered two singles -- one not leaving the infield -- and did not have a runner touch second base.

In the eighth inning, they erupted for six runs and seven hits and sent 10 men to the plate.

First baseman Billy Butler and catcher Salvador Perez each drove in two runs with two out in the eighth as the Royals defeated the Minnesota Twins 6-1 on Wednesday night.

With the victory and the Detroit loss, the Royals hiked their lead to 2 1/2 games over the Tigers in the American League Central.

"The feeling inside the locker room is a lot different than it was earlier in the year," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "They felt like they could be a good team. I think they feel now that they know they're a good team."

Right fielder Nori Aoki and center fielder Jarrod Dyson each contributed an RBI. Dyson's bunt single scored pinch-runner Lorenzo Cain with the first run. Aoki's single brought home third baseman Mike Moustakas with the go-ahead run.

"We're on a mission," Dyson said. "Everybody's heads on straight. If you lose, you bounce back and get them tomorrow. But the more you win, the more confidence you gain. Right now, we're living on a high, playing the game of baseball like we're five years old."

Butler's two-out single with the bases loaded scored two runs, making it 4-1, and Perez topped off the inning with a two-run triple to left center.

Twins right-hander Phil Hughes, who won his first four August starts with a 1.32 ERA, pitched seven scoreless innings but gave up five hits in the eighth as the Royals chased him.

"Regardless of how the inning transpires, I'm going out there to protect a one-run lead going into the eighth, knowing my pitch count is in good shape to probably finish the thing off," Hughes said. "That part is frustrating regardless of how they do it.

"I can remember probably two hard-hit balls tonight. That's how baseball is going to go. You can get some hard hit balls that will find guys and be out. But that's a team over there that finds a way and battles. There is something to be said for that."

Hughes (14-9) was charged with four runs and seven hits in 7 2/3 innings.

"Phil pitched great," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "It was his ballgame. They get a bloop to start off the inning. Then all of a sudden an infield single (Moustakas). They get a single there and a bunt single and they hit one ball hard -- Aoki who shot one over the shortstop's head opposite-field."

Right-hander Casey Fien gave up the hits to Butler and Perez.

Right fielder Oswaldo Arcia drove in the Twins' only run, his seventh-inning double scoring designated hitter Kenny Vargas.

Wade Davis (8-2) worked a perfect eighth to pick up the victory, his second in two nights.

Right-hander Liam Hendriks, who was making his Royals debut, retired the first 14 batters and was pulled after seven innings, allowing one run and four hits.

"What more can you ask?" Royals manager Ned Yost said. "He was on the attack with everything he had, banging strikes, just a phenomenal job for a spot start.

"It was a great trade that we made to get him and (Erik) Kratz. Going into a game like this, I don't know what to expect. A lot of guys when they first come up are a little starry-eyed, but he fit right in."

Hendriks was replacing rookie right-hander Yordano Ventura, who has a sore back and skipped a start. Hendricks was 2-13 in 30 games in parts of three seasons (2011-2013) with Minnesota. Hendriks was 4-1 with a 2.83 ERA in five starts with Triple-A Omaha.

Gold Glove left fielder Alex Gordon made a spectacular catch in the third inning, crashing face-first into the Royals' bullpen fence while holding onto catcher Kurt Suzuki's liner.

"That was awesome," Hendriks said. "Our defense did a great job tonight. Gordon making that catch out in left and Esky (Alcides Escobar) making a couple plays at short and Dyson running around in center.

"That's what I was aiming for, going seven and giving us a chance to win. I accomplished my goals, but I'm hungry for more and I want to go out and do better next time."

NOTES: The Royals optioned RHP Aaron Crow to Double-A Northwest Arkansas to make roster space for Hendriks, who started Wednesday. Crow was 6-1 with a 3.86 ERA in 59 relief appearances. ... Yost said 2B Omar Infante should be ready to return to the lineup Friday. He is out with shoulder inflammation. ... The Royals took their team picture before the game. ... LHP Tommy Milone, who starts Thursday, is 0-1 with an 8.49 ERA in three starts for the Twins since being acquired in a July 31 trade with the Oakland Athletics.

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