Minneapolis Wilson Betemit’s first homer as a Royal got Kansas City rolling toward a lead that seemed too big for even their struggling bullpen to lose.
His second gave that embattled pitching staff just enough of a cushion to hold on against the hard-charging Minnesota Twins.
Betemit hit solo home runs from both sides of the plate and Joakim Soria picked up his 14th save in a hairy ninth inning and the Royals beat the Twins, 9-8, on Thursday night.
Betemit hit one left-handed in the second inning after Mitch Maier’s two-run shot to help the Royals jump out to an 8-1 lead, then hit one from the right side in the ninth in what proved to be the game-winner. It was the sixth time in franchise history that a player has homered from both sides of the plate in the same game.
“I have to wait for opportunities,” said Betemit, who was called up from Triple-A Omaha on May 25. “Every time they give me opportunities to go out there, I play hard. That’s the way. Every time they give me an opportunity to play, just go out and do my job.”
The Twins scored five runs in the seventh inning, then got two more in the ninth off Soria on a double by Joe Mauer and a single by Justin Morneau.
But Michael Cuddyer lined out to right field with the tying run on first base to end the game.
“We scored nine runs and needed every one of them,” manager Ned Yost said. “But, it was a good win for us.”
Jose Guillen added three hits and an RBI, and Maier also went deep for the Royals.
Denard Span had four hits and an RBI and Jason Kubel homered for the Twins.
But a poor start from Scott Baker (5-5) and some uncharacteristically sloppy defense and baserunning snapped a six-game winning streak at jam-packed Target Field, where they had their 28th sellout in 29 games.
The first-place Twins pride themselves on winning with pitching and fielding, and both categories were completely out of whack on Thursday night.
“Probably as sloppy as we’ve played in a long time,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “I don’t remember the last time we had a defensive ballgame as bad as that one. Base-running, pretty bad, too.”
Baker gave up five runs and eight hits in five innings.