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The Sports Xchange, Published April 12 2014

Nolasco helps Twins beat Royals

MINNEAPOLIS – The Minnesota Twins got timely hitting and a great start from pitcher Ricky Nolasco in their 7-1 victory over the Kansas City Royals on Saturday at Target Field.

The Twins scored six runs in the second inning, capitalizing on two Royals errors, to build an early lead.

After a leadoff home run by Twins second baseman Brian Dozier in the first inning, Minnesota blew the game open in the second.

Royals right-hander James Shields allowed back-to-back singles to open the inning before committing an error on catcher Kurt Suzuki’s sacrifice bunt. With the bases loaded, Shields walked the No. 8 batter, Aaron Hicks, to make it 2-0.

After a strikeout, Kansas City had a chance to get out of trouble when Dozier hit a sharp grounder right at Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas. But instead of starting a potential inning-ending double play, Moustakas booted the ball into left field, scoring two runs.

First baseman Joe Mauer capped the inning by blasting a home run over the wall in right, his first of the season, to make it 7-0.

After struggling badly in his first two starts as a Twin, Nolasco showed why the club signed him to a four-year, $49 million over the winter. He went eight innings, allowing one run on five hits with a walk and four strikeouts.

Three of the five hits Nolsaco (1-1) allowed came in the top of the fifth, when the Royals strung together two doubles and an infield single to push their lone run across.

His rocky second inning aside, Shields was solid. He retired 11 of the final 13 batters he faced and came within one out of a quality start. He allowed seven runs, but only one of them was earned, over 5 2/3 innings. He struck out five and walked three.

After snapping a three-game losing streak on Friday, the Twins will go for the series sweep of the Royals on Sunday. Minnesota will start right-hander Kevin Correia (0-1, 6.17 ERA) against Kansas City left-hander Jason Vargas (1-0, 1.20).