Plouffe lifts Twins over Royals

Published 9:00 am Friday, July 15, 2011

MINNEAPOLIS — Trevor Plouffe hit a big two-run homer and Delmon Young had three hits in his return to the lineup to lead the Minnesota Twins to an 8-4 victory over the Kansas City Royals on Thursday night.

Francisco Liriano (6-7) gave up three runs — one earned — on seven hits with four strikeouts in seven innings and Joe Mauer had two hits and two RBIs for the Twins.

Melky Cabrera had two hits, an RBI and threw a runner out at home from center field for the Royals, who watched their bullpen let a close game get out of hand.

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Right-hander Blake Wood walked three and hit another batter while being charged with four runs in a disastrous seventh inning in relief of Bruce Chen (5-3).

Chen gave up four runs on nine hits with three walks in five innings for the Royals.

Alexi Casilla and Tsuyoshi Nishioka chipped in two hits each for the Twins, who have won seven of their last nine games.

The Twins went 24-11 in the final 35 games before the All-Star break, shaving 10 games off their deficit in the AL Central and started the night trailing Detroit by 6½ games. It marked the start of a crucial stretch of 12 home games in a row, all against division foes.