Defending AL champion Royals falter all over diamond in 8-5 loss to struggling Twins

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MINNEAPOLIS — The Kansas City Royals rolled into Target Field looking every bit the team that went to the World Series last season.

The pendulum swung back the other way in the series finale with a mistake-filled performance all over the diamond.

Jason Vargas was roughed up, the bullpen was tagged for its first three runs of the season and the typically sparkling defense was sloppy in an 8-5 loss to the Twins on Thursday.

Vargas (1-1) gave up five runs, four earned, on 10 hits, including a long two-run homer to Kennys Vargas in the second inning. He left with the bases loaded and nobody out in the fourth inning, and the Royals (7-2) dropped two of three for their first series loss of the season.

"I felt like for the most part I was executing pitches," Vargas said. "Even that pitch on the home run, you have to tip your cap. You miss inside and he's still able turn on it and keep it fair. After that they were just able to bleed us out and keep pressure on, keep putting singles on the board. We just weren't able to stop the bleeding."

Jason Frasor bailed Jason Vargas out of the jam in the fourth with a line out to third base and a 1-2-3 double play. But Chris Young gave up a two-run shot to Kurt Suzuki in the eighth and Ryan Madson allowed a run that put the Twins up 8-3 lead.

Tommy Milone (2-0) picked up his second straight victory for the Twins, recovering from a rough start to allow seven hits and three walks in 5 1-3 innings. The Twins dropped five of their first six in ugly fashion, so taking two of three from the defending AL champions buoyed their spirits.

"We needed 'em," new Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "Kansas City is a scrappy team. I think comebacks were part of their story last year. But it was good to get production."

Lorenzo Cain went 3 for 4 with a homer and three RBIs and Salvador Perez had two hits and an RBI for the Royals. Third baseman Mike Moustakas was charged with a throwing error that led to a run and Jarrod Dyson misplayed a double by Torii Hunter while looking generally uncomfortable in a rare turn in right field.

Royals manager Ned Yost said several of the plays his defense struggled with were difficult "body control plays" but acknowledged that "they are plays that we make."

TRAINER'S ROOM

Royals: Christian Colon gave Omar Infante his first break at second base, but Perez remained in the lineup at catcher for the ninth straight time despite the afternoon start following the night game. Yost said he wanted Perez's hitting potential on a day with Alex Gordon resting and Alex Rios out indefinitely. Yost said Perez could get a day off this weekend.

Twins: Casey Fien has showed no lingering effects of the shoulder stiffness that limited him to one inning over the first seven games. After pitching a perfect eighth Wednesday, the right-hander was sharp again with a four-up, four-down performance with a tidy 13 pitches.

CAIN'S POWER SURGE

Cain has two homers and a team-leading 11 RBIs this year. He went deep only 17 times in 358 major league games entering the season. With his speed, brilliant defense and batting average that's up to .429, the MVP of the American League championship series has fast become one of Kansas City's most indispensable players.

UP NEXT

Royals: return home for a three-game series against Oakland starting Friday. Left-hander Jeremy Guthrie is scheduled to pitch for the Royals, after winning his season debut while completing seven innings on the road against the Los Angeles Angels. Right-hander Sonny Gray will start for the Athletics.

Twins: will host Cleveland for a three-game series beginning Friday, when AL Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber pitches for the Indians and Mike Pelfrey takes the mound for the Twins. Pelfrey's last start at Target Field was nearly a year ago, on May 1.

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