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Escobar's 4 RBIs, Perez's homer power Royals past Twins 6-1 in series opener

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MINNEAPOLIS - An exasperated Ron Gardenhire lamented another game of missed chances for the Twins.

What's looking like another mid-summer swoon is wearing on Minnesota and its long-time skipper.

Alcides Escobar tied a career high with four RBIs on two doubles and Salvador Perez homered for the Kansas City Royals in a 6-1 victory Monday night to send the Twins to their sixth loss in seven games.

"Really frustrating, that's all I can say," Minnesota outfielder Chris Parmelee said.

Danny Duffy (5-7) gave up one run and four hits while striking out three in 5 2-3 innings for Kansas City (43-39), which has won three of four and is off to its best start since 2003.

But even when the Twins had Duffy and four Royals relievers in trouble, Minnesota couldn't capitalize like too many times recently.

Eduardo Nunez had two hits and an RBI in his return from the disabled list for the Twins. But following his RBI single in the fifth inning, Minnesota was 0 for 11 with runners in scoring position. The Twins twice had two runners aboard and no outs and failed to score, and stranded 11 base runners in all.

"They're taking some big swings," Gardenhire said of his club. "We've been facing some pretty decent pitching, and I don't know if it's pressing. I just know we're just not getting enough big hits right now. We're not putting any runs on the board. A lot of pressure on our pitchers to be really good."

Yohan Pino (0-2) gave up four runs and seven hits while also striking out three in 5 2-3 innings for the Twins.

Pino was a revelation in his first start for Minnesota as a 30 year old making his major-league debut. But he allowed five runs in three innings in a loss on the road last week and didn't appear as if he'd last much longer this time around.

Escobar drove in two with an RBI double in the second, but Pino did settle down before allowing the homer to Perez in the sixth.

"I want to finish that inning," Pino said. "I left it on the plate to Perez and I get hit. That's the game."

The Royals took advantage of two throwing errors by second baseman Brian Dozier in the eighth, padding their lead with Escobar's second two-run double of the game.

"When you're not going good, you're not capitalizing on mistakes," Kansas City manager Ned Yost said. "When you're playing well, you do capitalize on mistakes. That's exactly what we did tonight, which was big. Those were two big runs right there. That's a lot of breathing room."

Minnesota had won four games in a row at home before leaving for a tough road trip in which it was swept by the Los Angeles Angels and lost the first two games at Texas. A win on Sunday with a clutch ninth-inning double by Kendrys Morales was the hope for improvement coming home.

But the Twins dropped their first home game since June 8 and have fallen to last place in the AL Central during the recent stretch.

"Nobody's out here to lose," said Parmelee, who extended his hitting streak to 10 games with two hits. "So we got to figure out something to get those runs in."

NOTES: Twins GM Terry Ryan said prized prospect Byron Buxton is getting close to returning from a wrist injury that has kept him out for most of the season. Ryan said there still is no timetable for a return, but he'd be surprised if Buxton wasn't back on the field sometime in July. ... Kurt Suzuki had two hits for the Twins. ... Moustakas made two stellar plays at 3B, a lunging catch on a liner by Morales in the second and a scoop and force out at 3B to end a threat in the seventh. ... Twins RHP Ricky Nolasco (4-6, 5.74) will start the second game of the series against RHP James Shields (8-3, 3.79).

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