MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The Kansas City Royals are hoping to make another push for a playoff spot, and their latest successful series at Target Field is definitely going to help.
Bruce Chen bounced back with a solid start and the Royals earned their fifth consecutive win with a 3-1 victory over Minnesota, sending the slumping Twins to their fifth straight loss.
"This was a nice series for us," Kansas City manager Ned Yost said. "We did everything really well, we pitched well, swung the bats well, played solid defense."
The Royals outscored Minnesota 17-3 in the three-game set to finish the season series with a 15-4 record against their AL Central rival. Kansas City has won seven straight at Target Field.
"They've probably had our number in the past, so it's tough to say anything bad about them," said second baseman Chris Getz, who had one of Kansas City's three RBI singles.
Coupled with Oakland's 7-6 loss in Detroit, the Royals are six games back of the A's for the AL's second wild-card slot.
"I couldn't even tell you who's ahead of us," Yost said. "My focus is if we win everything else takes care of itself."
Getting Chen back on track certainly helps.
Chen (6-2), who is good at deception and changing speeds, gave up one run and five hits in 5 2-3 innings. In his past two starts, he allowed 13 runs in nine innings. Before those two, he had allowed just three earned runs in 38 2-3 innings over six starts.
"I went back and tried to be more aggressive," Chen said. "I wanted to make sure I pound the strike zone."
Kelvin Herrera and Will Smith combined for 2 1-3 innings of scoreless relief. Greg Holland pitched a scoreless ninth for his 36th save in 38 chances.
"It was a total team effort," Chen said. "We won collectively."
The Twins hit just 15 for 91 (.165) in the series. Brian Dozier homered for Minnesota, which has totaled just six runs during its skid.
Minnesota is one game ahead of last-place Chicago in the division.
"It's a tough time of the year," said bench coach Terry Steinbach, who filled in when manager Ron Gardenhire was ejected in the second inning. "They don't call it the 'Dog Days of August' for nothing, and whether you're in first place or last place or somewhere in the middle, as players and as organizations and teams you've got to figure out a way to get through this stuff."