Minneapolis Kansas City’s James Shields is accustomed to pitching in close games this season.
He kept his team in the game until the Royals were able to break through late.
Shields was sharp for 7 1/3 innings, Alex Gordon had three RBIs, and Kansas City scored five runs in the eighth inning to beat the Minnesota Twins, 6-1, on Tuesday.
“The way Shields was pitching, it was like, ‘OK, just hold ’em until we can break something open,’” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “Finally, in the eighth it got broken open.”
Shields — the key part in the deal that sent top prospect Wil Myers to Tampa Bay in the offseason — struck out seven and notched his American-League best 22nd quality start.
Shields (9-8) went over the .500 mark and only allowed one hit through seven innings before running into trouble and leaving in the eighth.
While the wins haven’t been there for Shields, he’s pitched well.
“I’ve got a ton of quality starts this year and I feel like I’ve been pitching well all year,” Shields said. “The wins are going to come. I’m not really too worried about it. I’m just going to keep grinding out the rest of the season and hope for the best.”
Kevin Correia struck out a season-high seven over seven shutout innings, but ended up with a no-decision. Brian Dozier had the Twins’ RBI.
Seven consecutive Royals hitters reached base in a five-run eighth that broke open a scoreless game and handed reliever Jared Burton (2-8) his third loss to Kansas City this season.
The first two runs scored on a bloop single from Chris Getz and a Jarrod Dyson bunt.
Gordon followed with a bases-clearing double down the right-field line that made it 5-0 and sent most of the fans at a steamy Target Field heading for the exits.
Burton also lost Sunday in Cleveland.
“I’ll talk to Burton a little bit tomorrow about what he did and how he felt and what he was thinking, and then we move on,” Twins pitching coach Rick Anderson said.
Billy Butler hit his 14th home run in the ninth.
After losing seven straight and damaging their playoff chances, the Royals have won three in a row.
“You have to fight through it,” Dyson said. “That’s the great part about us. We fight through everything.”
After walking Ryan Doumit in the second, Shields retired 14 of the next 15 batters and held the Twins until the offense got him some support.
Wade Davis, the other pitcher Kansas City acquired in the Myers’ deal, hasn’t been nearly as effective and was demoted to the bullpen on Tuesday.
Danny Duffy will be called up on Wednesday from Triple-A Omaha and take Davis’ slot in the rotation.
The Twins have struggled to score since All-Star Joe Mauer went on the disabled list a week ago with a concussion.
Minnesota had a chance to cut into the lead after Dozier’s double chased Shields and made it 5-1 in the eighth. But Will Smith struck out Chris Herrmann and Justin Morneau with runners on second and third to end the threat.
The Twins struck out 11 times and were 1 for 9 with runners in scoring position.
“Good ball game until we got into the eighth, and then things kind of unraveled there, we couldn’t really stop them,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “The ball kept going their way, bunts, you name it, everything, stolen bases, bloops, and there you have it, a five spot.”
NOTES: Davis is 6-10 with a 5.67 ERA and will move to the bullpen. ... Twins general manager Terry Ryan said it’s still to be determined if Mauer will make the upcoming road trip to Texas. Ryan also said that Mauer is making progress in his recovery from a concussion. ... Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said OF Oswaldo Arcia will probably be out for at least a few more days with a sore hand. ... The Royals signed Carlos Pena to a minor-league contract and assigned him to Triple-A Omaha. Pena, 35, hit .209 with eight homers in 85 games for Houston before being released on July 31. ... Kansas City also traded minor-league OF Quintin Berry to Boston for minor league reliever Clayton Mortensen. ... Twins 1B Chris Colabello was selected the International MVP and Rookie of the Year. He hit .352 with 24 home runs. ... The Royals bumped Bruce Chen back a day so Duffy could start Wednesday’s game against the Twins. Duffy had elbow surgery last season and has made two spot starts for Kansas City in August, allowing two runs in 9 2-3 innings. ... Andrew Albers (2-1, 3.00 ERA) makes his fifth major league start for the Twins on Wednesday. Albers pitched 8 1/3 scoreless innings in his major-league debut against the Royals earlier this season.