Duensing, Repko lead Twins past Royals

Published 9:00 am Monday, June 6, 2011

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Brian Duensing hadn’t won in six weeks. The way he felt warming up Sunday, throwing the ball all over the bullpen, he wondered if it might not be another six.

He was also nursing a bad cold. But the Minnesota left-hander proceeded to pitch eight sharp innings and lead the injury-wracked Twins to a 6-0 victory over Kansas City for their first four-game sweep in almost four years.

“It worked out pretty well,” Duensing said with a relieved grin.

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Jason Repko drove in three runs off starter Jeff Francis, and Matt Tolbert hit a two-run triple in the ninth off Jesse Chavez as the Twins rang up their first four-game sweep since beating Oakland four straight July 12-15, 2007. The Twins hadn’t swept four from Kansas City since Aug. 3-6, 2006.

“A really good performance by Mr. Duensing,” Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire said. “With the heat out there, to last that long was pretty impressive.”

The four-game win streak is a season best for the Twins, who’ve been struggling with eight players on the disabled list and were missing two of their best players, Justin Morneau and Denard Span, for the second day in a row.

Duensing (3-5) gave up six hits with one walk and four strikeouts in his longest outing of the season and avoided becoming the first Twins starter in four years to lose six straight decisions. The left-hander had five losses and two no-decisions since beating Cleveland on April 23.

“I couldn’t throw a strike in the bullpen. I didn’t know where the ball was going,” he said. “My off-speed was up in the zone. I’d try to throw a ball in and it’d go out. I’d try to throw a ball out and it’d go out even farther. So nothing was really working.”

Getting a three-run lead after the first inning helped quite a bit, he said.

“It took a lot of pressure off. I kept telling myself I had a lead, so just try to throw strikes.”

Throwing strikes to the slumping Royals was all that was needed.

They managed only six runs in the four games and were shut out for the third time. They are 3-12 in their last 15 games and haven’t had an extra-base hit since Saturday.

“We’re not putting together much offense right now,” manager Ned Yost said. “We’re having a hard time generating any offense to put runs on the board. That hurts when you can’t do that.”

Duensing was replaced in the ninth by Matt Capps.

Francis (2-6) was charged with four runs, one earned, while pitching seven innings and giving up six hits.

“The Minnesota Twins came in here with all their stars gone, all their big players out of the lineup and kind of a mix-and-match lineup, if you will, and they kicked our tails four straight,” Yost said. “They did it.”

Repko’s first hit in 15 at-bats drove in two runs as the Twins took a 3-0 lead in the first inning with three unearned runs. Ben Revere, on first with a leadoff single, sped to third when rookie first baseman Eric Hosmer threw wildly to second on Alexi Casilla’s attempted sacrifice bunt.

With runners at second and third, Michael Cuddyer popped out and Danny Valencia walked, loading the bases. One run scored on Delmon Young’s fielder’s choice grounder. Repko then delivered a two-run single right up the middle that was just barely out of second baseman Mike Aviles’ reach.