Suzuki homers as Twins beat Royals

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) – Kurt Suzuki rarely makes errors or hits home runs. He did both on Saturday.

The Baldwin High School graduate’s bat – and baserunning – made up for a bad throw.

Suzuki went 2-for-3 with a solo homer and made an impressive slide into home plate, Phil Hughes allowed one run in 7 1/3 innings and the Twins defeated the Kansas City Royals 4-1 on Saturday.

Suzuki scored the tying run during Minnesota’s three-run rally in the seventh inning. With runners on second and third, Yordano Ventura threw a fastball that shattered Danny Santana’s bat – but Santana reached base when first baseman Billy Butler tried to throw out Suzuki at home. The throw was in time, but the tag by catcher Salvador Perez was off.

“As a catcher, I know how tough that play is coming from the first-base side because you’re blind to the tag,” Suzuki, an All-Star for the first time this year, said on the Twins’ website. “So I just tried to get as far wide as I could. I saw him dive back, so I knew he didn’t have much to work with.”

Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire was quoted as saying that Suzuki was instructed to run on contact.

“We had a contact play coming home and it’s something I don’t like do, especially with our catcher,” Gardenhire said. “But in our situation, I thought we had to. Suzuki did a nice job, got a great jump and made a super slide.”

Brian Dozier followed with an RBI double, and Kennys Vargas delivered a sacrifice fly. Suzuki hit his third homer of the year in the eighth.

Kansas City took a 1-0 lead in the fourth, when Suzuki’s errant throw allowed Nori Aoki to score after stealing third.

“The hardest part is (Hughes) was throwing so good and for me to do something like that, that’s what really got me a little bit,” Suzuki said.

The error was just his fourth of the season.

“It was pretty brutal,” Suzuki said. “It was just one of those things where you get your body moving too quick and I lost the ball probably about right before my arm started coming forward. I said, ‘This is not good.’ “

Hughes improved to 13-8.

Ventura (9-9) permitted three runs in 6 2/3 innings.

The Royals had won 11 of their previous 12 games.

“You got to put up more runs than one,” Butler said.