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Kansas City Royals designated hitter Josh Willingham (7) celebrates with third baseman Mike Moustakas (8) after scoring runs in the fourth inning against the Minnesota Twins on Friday at Target Field. USA Today Sports

Fourth inning propels Royals past Twins

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Fourth inning propels Royals past Twins
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MINNEAPOLIS – It was a memorable night in a hectic week for Kansas City Royals designated hitter Josh Willingham.

Willingham played a starring role against his former team Friday night, clearing the bases with a bases-loaded triple in the fourth inning of a 6-5 win over Minnesota at Target Field.

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A double, a single and a hit batter packed the bases in front of Willingham, who strolled to the plate for his second at-bat against the team who traded him to Kansas City on Monday. A sharp grounder down the third-base line reached the corner, scoring all three men on base and giving the Royals a 3-2 lead they wouldn’t relinquish.

“I knew it was going to be a little strange against my former team,” Willingham said. “I’m just happy I could help us win a game tonight.”

For Royals manager Ned Yost, Friday’s situation was exactly why Kansas City went out and traded for the veteran slugger.

“Absolutely, to help us win ballgames, and he did that in big fashion tonight,” Yost said. “You just know that Josh is a guy that has experience, he’s a professional hitter, you feel good when he comes up in those situations.”

As he walked to the plate, Willingham said he sensed, with the Royals down 2-0, a chance to do something big in only his fourth game with the team.

“As a hitter, you want to hit with runners on base,” Willingham said. “I knew that was a big spot for us and, this time, come through.”

As the inning continued, third baseman Mike Moustakas’ infield single moved Willingham to third base before a triple to the gap in right-center field by shortstop Alcides Escobar drove both runners in, all before Twins starter Ricky Nolasco had an out in the fourth.

“That’s what good hitters do there; they’ll make you pay in those type of RBI situations,” Nolasco said. “(Willingham has) been doing that for a long time, and that’s pretty much the difference in the game – that one pitch right there.”

KC ab r h bi MIN ab r h bi

Aoki rf 4 0 0 0 Santana cf 4 0 0 0

Cain rf 1 0 1 0 Dozier 2b 4 0 0 1

Infante 2b 5 0 0 0 Mauer 1b 4 0 1 0

Perez c 5 1 1 0 Vargas dh 4 0 1 0

Butler 1b 4 1 1 0 Plouffe 3b 4 1 1 0

Gordon lf 3 2 2 0 Suzuki c 3 1 3 0

Wllnghm dh 4 1 1 3 Arcia rf 4 1 1 1

Moustks 3b 4 1 2 0 Escobar ss 4 1 1 0

Escobar ss 4 0 2 3 Schafer lf 3 1 1 0

Dyson cf 4 0 2 0 Parml ph 1 0 0 1

Totals 38 6 12 6 Totals 35 5 9 3

Kansas City 000 500 010 — 6

Minnesota 002 100 002 — 5

E—L.Cain 1, D.Duffy 1. LOB—Minnesota 0, Kansas City 0. 2B—Arcia (11), Mauer (19), S.Perez (20), Plouffe (32), K.Suzuki (24), Willingham (2). 3B—J.Dyson (4), A.Escobar 2 (5). SB—L.Cain (18), J.Dyson (27).

IP H R ER BB SO

Kansas City

D.Duffy W, 8-10 5 Z\c 6 3 2 0 1

Crow H, 9 Z\c 1 0 0 0 0

Bueno H, 5 Z\c 0 0 0 0 0

K.Herrera H, 13 1 0 0 0 0 2

W.Davis H, 26 1 1 0 0 0 1

G.Holland S, 37 1 1 2 2 1 1

Minnesota

Nolasco L, 5-8 6 7 5 5 1 3

Thielbar Z\c 1 0 0 0 0

Burton 1 Z\c 1 1 1 0 2

Duensing Z\c 2 0 0 0 0

Pressly 1 1 0 0 0 0

Inherited runners-scored—Bueno 2-0, Crow 1-0, Burton 1-0, Duensing 1-1. HBP—A.Gordon (by Nolasco). WP—Burton (1).

Umpires—Home, David Rackley; First, Jim Reynolds; Second, Fieldin Culbreth; Third, Chris Segal.

T—3:5. A—32,013 (42,035)

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