KANSAS CITY, Missouri — The longer Miguel Sano stayed in the batter's box, the more confident Twins manager Paul Molitor felt that his big pinch-hitter would come through in the 12th inning Wednesday night.
Sano delivered with a two-out homer over the bullpen in left field, boosting Minnesota to a 3-2 victory over the AL Central-leading Kansas City Royals and a series win in their three-game set.
"Sano had a really good at-bat," Molitor said. "He did what he can do, put a run up quickly."
Sano was stuck in an 0-for-14 slump that included 11 strikeouts when he stepped to the plate against Franklin Morales (3-2), the Royals' sixth reliever of the night. After he appeared to take strike three on a pitch plate umpire Greg Gibson called a ball, the big rookie took a mighty swing and sent his 16th homer of the year over just about everything in left field.
"(The umpire) missed it. The pitch was right there," Morales said. "I tried to come back with the same pitch again. And I missed for my part and he got a homer."
Blaine Boyer (3-4) pitched 1 2-3 innings of relief for Minnesota. Kevin Jepsen got three outs for his 12th save while Glen Perkins sat out again with a back injury.
Perkins received a second cortisone shot Wednesday and was still unavailable.
Kansas City had a chance to win in the 10th when pinch-runner Jarrod Dyson stole second and third, and Lorenzo Cain chopped a grounder back to the pitcher. Brian Duensing alertly threw home and the throw carried Kurt Suzuki into Dyson, who claimed the catcher was blocking the plate.
Royals manager Ned Yost also argued, and Gibson and crew chief Jim Joyce went to the headset for a review. The call was confirmed and Dyson was out.
Meanwhile, Suzuki was shaken up in the collision. He left with a bruised left knee.
"The doctor's report is fairly optimistic," Molitor said. "We're hoping the initial diagnosis is accurate and there's no ligament damage in there."
Suzuki homered earlier in the game and Joe Mauer also drove in a run for the Twins, who had dropped four of six after a hot streak vaulted them into wild-card contention.
Ben Zobrist homered for the Royals. Cain drove in their other run with a sacrifice fly.
The late-inning theatrics transpired after Twins starter Mike Pelfrey and Royals counterpart Kris Medlen waged an entertaining pitchers' duel through the first five innings.
Medlen retired the first 11 batters he faced and did not allow a hit until Suzuki went deep leading off the sixth. Medlen wound up allowing two more hits in the inning, including an RBI single by Mauer, and exited with the Royals in a 2-0 hole.
It was still a solid outing by Medlen, battered by the White Sox in his previous start.
"I thought he threw the ball great," Yost said. "He was very efficient with all his stuff."
Pelfrey got a double play in the second and another with Cain on third to end the fourth. The right-hander didn't allow a run until the sixth, when Zobrist went deep with one out, and then was pulled after allowing a single to Alex Gordon and hitting Cain in the back with a pitch.
Neal Cotts got Eric Hosmer and Kendrys Morales to fly out, ending the threat in a game that was only just beginning.
"We went 12 innings for it," Pelfrey said. "Our bullpen came in and did a great job, and we scored enough at the end."
The Royals set a franchise record for single-season attendance with 2,506,913 fans, and they still have six home dates to go. The previous record of 2,477,700 was set in 1989.
Twins: RHP Phil Hughes (back inflammation) threw 45 pitches during a simulated game, then fielded bunts and did pitcher's fielding practice. "He came out of it fine," Molitor said. "Now it's just a matter of seeing what the next step will be."
Royals: Gordon has been swinging a hot bat since his return from the DL following a groin injury, though Yost said he will continue to replace Gordon on defense late in games.
Twins: RHP Ervin Santana pitches against the White Sox in Chicago on Friday night.
Royals: LHP Danny Duffy opens a series in Baltimore on Friday night.