Kansas City, Mo. Joe Mauer matched a career high with five hits and Denard Span singled home the go-ahead run in the 12th inning, sending the Minnesota Twins to a 9-7 victory over the Kansas City Royals on Saturday night.
Justin Morneau hit a tying, two-run homer in the seventh for the Twins, who overcame an early 5-1 deficit. Mauer, last year’s AL MVP, finished 5-for-6 with two RBIs, including a sacrifice fly in the 12th that gave Minnesota an insurance run.
Jon Rauch (1-0) squandered a one-run lead in the 11th inning, giving up Jose Guillen’s tying double, but stuck around for the win. He held on in the 12th with the help of a disputed call.
With a runner on first, Twins shortstop J.J. Hardy bobbled Willie Bloomquist’s two-out grounder before tossing to second for a force on Scott Podsednik.
Replays showed Podsednik beat the play, but second base umpire Greg Gibson emphatically called him out, ending the game. Royals manager Trey Hillman came out to argue with Gibson to no avail.
Delmon Young led off the Minnesota 12th with a double off Robinson Tejeda (1-2), the sixth of seven Royals pitchers. After Hardy walked and Alexi Casilla’s bunt single loaded the bases, Span’s single over a drawn-in infield scored Young. Mauer’s sacrifice fly drove in Hardy with the second run of the inning.
Rauch, who had been perfect in his first six save opportunities while replacing injured All-Star Joe Nathan as the Twins’ closer, could not hold a slim lead in the 11th.
Billy Butler, who made an error in the top half that led to an unearned run, led off with a single, his fourth hit. Bloomquist ran for Butler and scored on Guillen’s double to tie it at 7.
Michael Cuddyer’s sacrifice fly in the top of the 11th scored Orlando Hudson, who reached base when Butler failed to field his popup to first. Hudson advanced to third on Mauer’s fifth hit, a single to center.
Mauer also had a triple and a double in the third five-hit game of his career. The previous one was Aug. 29, 2008, at Oakland.
The Royals loaded the bases in the 10th on singles by Jason Kendall and Alex Gordon and an intentional walk to David DeJesus. Podsednik, leading the AL in hitting, flied out to end the inning.
The Twins have won 12 of their past 14 games against the Royals, including nine of their last 10 at Kauffman Stadium.
Royals right-hander Luke Hochevar worked 62⁄3 innings, allowing six runs, five earned, on eight hits — six for extra-bases. He struck out seven and walked one.
Hochevar left with a 6-4 lead, but that lasted just one pitch because Morneau hit a two-run homer on the first delivery from John Parrish. It was the fifth blown save in nine opportunities by the Kansas City bullpen.