Kansas City, Mo. It had been a long time since the Kansas City Royals spilled out of the dugout at Kauffman Stadium to celebrate a victory. One month, to be exact.
A month marked by offensive ineptitude, late-inning let-downs, a shake-up of the coaching staff and the return of Hall of Fame third baseman George Brett as the Royals’ interim hitting coach.
On Wednesday night, the scuffling team got just enough pitching from Jeremy Guthrie and its bullpen, and just enough hitting from David Lough and Billy Butler, to deliver a 4-1 victory over the Minnesota Twins that ended its franchise-record 11-game home losing streak.
“We had to grind it out,” Royals manager Ned Yost said with relief.
That they did.
The Twins jumped out to a first-inning lead off Guthrie (6-3), but the right-hander escaped a bases-loaded jam with the help of a nice catch by first baseman Eric Hosmer.
The Royals answered in the bottom half when Hosmer reached second on an error and Salvador Perez drove him in with a single. P.J. Walters (2-1) walked the bases loaded, and Lough’s two-run double with two down provided enough runs for Kansas City for the rest of the night.
Aaron Crow got the Royals out of a bases-loaded jam in the seventh inning, and Kelvin Herrera worked a perfect eighth. Greg Holland put the first two runners aboard in the ninth before striking out Justin Morneau, Ryan Doumit and Chris Parmelee for his 10th save of the season.
Just like that, the Royals finally had a win at the K.
“We hadn’t just been playing bad here. We’d been playing bad in general, everywhere we’ve been,” said Butler, who had three hits and drove in an insurance run in the seventh inning.
“Hopefully this gets us going, gives us a little momentum boost,” Butler said, “and hopefully we can carry this over to tomorrow, a tumble effect — it snowballs and we start building some confidence.”
Josh Willingham drove in the only run for the Twins, who left 14 on base.
“A tough night offensively for us,” manager Ron Gardenhire said. “We put a lot of people on the bases. You can all see that big number, leaving 14 on base. You leave that many men out there, you had plenty of chances.”
Guthrie made like Houdini by allowing just one run while putting nine on base. The result was his first victory since May 9, and the first by any Royals starter in their last 19 games.
“It would have been nice to get to him early, especially in the first, but we’ve got to go out there and attack him,” Parmelee said. “We didn’t do that tonight.”
When the Twins did, the Royals’ defense was there to pick Guthrie up.
Hosmer robbed a fan of a foul ball when he made a catch near the Royals’ dugout with the bases loaded to end the first. Then in the third, second baseman Chris Getz made a diving play to his left to take a hit away from Doumit and likely save a run.
“That was a phenomenal play,” Yost said.
Walters gave up seven hits and three walks in six innings, but his three runs were unearned after shortstop Pedro Florimon threw the ball away on Hosmer’s grounder in the first inning.
The Twins defense tried to atone for the gaffe later in the game.
After Walters allowed a pair of singles to start the third, Mike Moustakas grounded into a double play to scuttle the inning. Walters also gave up a single leading off the fourth before Getz grounded into a double play, one that proved timely when Alcides Escobar tripled moments later.
“We lost. I gave up three runs and we lost by three. Earned or not, they’re still my runs,” Walter said. “It was one of those days where I was little erratic and had to battle through it.”
The middle innings were played through a persistent mist that at times turned to rain, giving the sparsely populated bowl of the stadium the look of a car wash. But the grounds crew kept the infield dry, and crew chief Tom Hallion never appeared close to calling for the tarp.
Much to the relief of the Royals.
After enduring 11 straight home losses, they didn’t want anything to hold up a long-awaited win.
“Tough streak,” Butler said. “I’m glad it’s over.”
NOTES: Royals OF Jarrod Dyson (right ankle sprain) did sprints before the game and is expected to go on a rehab assignment soon. LHP Danny Duffy (Tommy John surgery) said on Twitter he’s headed to Triple-A Omaha after starting his rehab stint at Double-A Northwest Arkansas. ... RHP Mike Pelfrey will pitch the series finale for Minnesota on Thursday night. RHP Wade Davis starts for Kansas City.