Minneapolis The Kansas City Royals had dropped only two games all year when leading after eight innings. By the end of the day, that number was up to three.
Greg Holland walked in a run in the eighth and yielded Trevor Plouffe’s tying homer in the ninth. The Royals went on to a 4-3 to the Minnesota Twins in 10 innings on Thursday night.
“You don’t want to lose a game like that,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “They bounced back and they beat our best.”
Alexi Casilla started the winning rally with a leadoff double in the 10th against Francisley Bueno (1-1) that fell just beyond the glove of diving center fielder Lorenzo Cain, who injured his leg on the play and had to leave the game. Span then hit a double over the head of right fielder Eric Hosmer for the win.
The Royals dropped to 54-3 when leading after eight.
“This was one of those games,” said Luis Mendoza, who started for Kansas City and allowed one run and two hits in six innings. “They’ve been great all year. Tomorrow is another day.”
Holland replaced Kelvin Herrera with the bases loaded and two out in the eighth. He walked Josh Willingham to make it 3-2.
Plouffe then hit a leadoff drive in the ninth for his 21st homer, handing Holland his first blown save opportunity since the All-Star break.
Kansas City took a 3-1 lead on a two-run single by Salvador Perez in the first inning and Billy Butler’s run-scoring double in the fifth. Both hits came with two outs.
The Royals had some other chances, but couldn’t capitalize.
“We could have done more to get a more comfortable lead,” Royals slugger Alex Gordon said.
Gordon doubled with one out in the 10th. Butler ran the count to 2-1, and felt Glen Perkins’ next pitch was too high. Plate umpire Mike Estabrook called it a strike, and when Butler began arguing the call, he was ejected.
“It was a heated moment, he’s got his opinion and I’ve got mine and his matters most,” said Butler, who had been warned twice by Estabrook to stop discussing the call. “It was unfortunate I got thrown out, I would have loved to hit with two strikes there.”
Tony Abreu took Butler’s place and swung and missed for strike three. Glen Perkins (3-1) got out of the inning and picked up the win.
Liam Hendriks allowed seven hits, struck out three and walked two in five innings for Minnesota.
Hendriks became the fifth player since 1920 to go winless in his first 17 starts. The record is 20 set by Bill Caudill of the Cubs (1979-81) and Oakland’s Mike Mohler (1993-97). Besides his 13 starts this year, Hendriks was 0-2 with four starts for Minnesota in 2011. However, he was 9-3 at Triple-A Rochester this season.
Cain hurt his right hamstring on the play in the 10th. He’ll be re-evaluated before the Royals’ home game Friday against the Angels.
NOTES: Twins All-Star C Joe Mauer missed his third straight game due to back spasms. ... Minnesota starting pitcher Cole De Vries is done for the year after an MRI revealed a cracked rib. The right-hander went 5-5 with a 4.11 ERA in his rookie season. ... Minnesota C-OF Ryan Doumit is day to day with a strained muscle in his rib cage. ... Esmerling Vasquez (0-1, 9.35 ERA) is scheduled to start Friday for Minnesota when it welcomes Chicago for the opener of a three-game series. The White Sox will send Chris Sale (16-6, 2.88 ERA) to the mound. ... Kansas City returns home to face Los Angeles on Friday with Bruce Chen (10-12, 5.36 ERA) scheduled to face the Angels’ C.J. Wilson (12-9, 3.69 ERA).