MINNEAPOLIS -- He's been described as wildly erratic and his fastball moved all over Thursday night at Target Field. Whatever mix right-hander Samuel Deduno threw against the Royals, it provided the Twins with just what they needed.
Reeling off a 1-4 road trip, Minnesota pulled out a 3-1 victory over Kansas City, as Deduno and the Royals' Jeremy Gurthrie each clocked in with a fast-paced outing.
Deduno worked through seven quick innings, allowing one run on five hits, striking out three and walking one. Deduno, who is 3-0 with a 0.93 ERA in three career starts against Kansas City, threw 60 of his 87 pitches for strikes.
"When you are ahead of the count, you can make pitches and everything was working," Deduno said of his start and finding a rhythm.
The right-hander found himself in a bit of a jam in the seventh as he gave up hits to Billy Butler and Salvador Perez to start the inning, but recorded three straight outs to escape the threat unscathed.
"He was really good, working the strike zone -- pounding it, using his fast ball," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "The ball was moving all over the place, you could see that from that hitters. In the first inning we thought their whole goal was to attack [Justin] Morneau at first base -- they kept rolling over so many balls. He just kept throwing that sinker and breaking ball in there and they kept rolling balls over towards first. He pitched really well."
The Royals' Billy Butler also noted Deduno's movement, adding he has a "nasty drop."
Guthrie worked as quickly as Deduno, facing the minimum through three innings. After he ran into trouble in the fourth -- giving up two runs on three hits -- the right-hander resumed keeping the Twins at bay. He exited after 6 1/3 innings, allowing three runs (two earned) on six hits, striking out four and walking one.
After striking out leadoff hitter Oswaldo Arcia in the seventh, Guthrie allowed a hit to Trevor Plouffe and a walk to Chris Parmelee before a Mike Moustakas error loaded the bases. Left-hander Will Smith entered and gave up a sacrifice fly to Pedro Florimon, scoring Plouffe for a 3-1 lead.
"They had the bases loaded and Florimon up, who's hitting .095 against left-handed pitching, but he found a way to get the ball in the outfield," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "We've got to find a way to put the ball in play in those situations."
The Twins jumped on the board first in the fourth. Morneau hit his first double of the game to score Clete Thomas, who led off the inning with a base hit to center. Arcia followed with a single to right-center to bring in Josh Willingham, who had singled.
"I thought we hit six or seven balls right at people the first time through," Morneau said. "The second time through, we said Clete needs to hit a blooper or a dribbler to get us going right here and then he hits a ball off the end of the bat and sneaks it up the middle.
"I don't know if we got him out of his rhythm or not, but you can kind of settle in from the windup and we got him in the stretch. We wind up taking advantage of some mistakes. It was a good inning, a good second time through."
With a 2-0 lead to start the fifth, Deduno gave up a run on a leadoff home run by Perez. The Royals didn't threaten to score again until the seventh, but couldn't accomplish the task.
"I hit that little cutter he throws," Perez said. "All of his balls move. But I hit that ball pretty good."
"Those guys can swing the bats over there too," Gardenhire said. "They've got a good young ballclub. We've seen them do that before. … That Perez, I've seen him short-swing a lot of guys. If you look at his numbers against us, we've probably seen him get more hits than anybody else in the league."
Jared Burton entered for the Twins in the eighth and faced four batters, giving up one hit and striking out one. Preserving a 3-1 lead, Burton set up Twins closer Glenn Perkins for his 20th save, though he allowed two baserunners before snuffing out a rally.
Kelly Erickson is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.