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KC@MIN: Twins score six on three hits, two errors

MINNEAPOLIS -- After the Twins' offense broke out of a funk and feasted on Royals pitching for 10 runs on Friday, they returned on Saturday afternoon to take a seven-run chunk out of Kansas City ace James Shields in a 7-1 victory at Target Field.

Minnesota erupted in the second inning for six runs, thanks to two Royals errors and Joe Mauer's first home run of the season, a three-run blast to right-center field to cap the scoring.

Shields had walked one batter through his first 13 1/3 innings this season before issuing three free passes on Saturday. Twins second baseman Brian Dozier felt Shields was having trouble spotting his fastball.

"We haven't really seen him pitch like that," Dozier said. "What makes his changeup so good is how he locates his fastball.

"From the very first inning, four hard-hit balls. Second inning, everyone was lining out on his fastball. Then, he started going cutter to changeup rather than fastball. You can see the changeup a lot better when he's not throwing the fastball, not having the command."

During Mauer's seven-pitch at-bat in the second, Shields threw him nothing but cutters and changeups. It was a changeup up in the zone that the Twins' first baseman deposited into the seats.

"I was trying to go down to get a ground ball," Shields said. "Even though it was a 3-2 count, I was trying to get a changeup down and away, and I just hung it. He's a good enough hitter that he's going to hit that every time."

Dozier took Shields deep to lead off the first, tying him for the American League lead with four long balls.

"It is what it is," he said. "It's pretty cool, but power, whatever ... that comes second. My job is to get on base."

"Capitalizing on the opportunities given to you is what we need to do," acting manager Terry Steinbach said. "We hit the ball very well today. We had a lot of hard-hit outs. I'm very happy with the quality of at-bats one through nine."

Minnesota starter Ricky Nolasco piggybacked off of Kyle Gibson's brilliant outing on Friday to twirl eight innings -- allowing a run on five hits with one walk and four strikeouts. Nolasco became the first Twins starter other than Gibson to record a victory this season.

"I just thought I commanded the fastball a little better today," Nolasco said. "That's where it all started -- just getting on top of the ball and little bit better and keeping it down."

"Today, he moved his fastball around very, very well," Steinbach said, "mixed in his offspeed pitches, which kept them off balance."

Signed to a four-year contract in the offseason, Nolasco owned an 0-1 record with a 9.00 ERA through his first two starts before Saturday's gem.

"I wish I could say I'm going to go eight every time," he said, "but it's something at this level that's very difficult. I had two bad starts, but at the same time my mentality is I can still do things like today." Comments