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Ventura dominant through 6 before Royals fall 4-1 to Twins

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MINNEAPOLIS - Yordano Ventura cruised through six innings Saturday night, then couldn't complete the seventh.

Phil Hughes threw seven sharp innings, Kurt Suzuki hit his third homer of the season and the Minnesota Twins beat first-place Kansas City 4-1 to snap the Royals' three-game winning streak.

Coupled with Detroit's 4-2 win over Seattle, the Royals' AL Central lead is down to a half-game.

Hughes (13-8) allowed one run, seven hits and struck out six to outlast Ventura (9-9), a hard-throwing rookie who threw six innings of one-hit ball before the Twins broke through.

With runners on second and third in the seventh, Ventura threw a 99-mph fastball that shattered Danny Santana's bat — but Santana reached base when Billy Butler tried to throw out Suzuki at home. Catcher Salvador Perez's tag was late, allowing the Twins to tie it.

Ventura threw a season-high 114 pitches — his fifth straight game of at least 101 — but manager Ned Yost believes the right-hander was still his best option with the slim lead.

"He had only given up one hit to that point, he was still throwing the ball good," Yost said. "We had a chance to get out of it there. We gambled and played the infield in, got the ground ball, but Billy hesitated just enough where we couldn't make the play."

Brian Dozier followed with his 25th double of the season to score pinch-runner Eduardo Escobar and put the Twins ahead for good. Kennys Vargas chased Ventura two batters later with a sacrifice fly to score Santana and give Minnesota a two-run lead.

"Throughout the game you have to make good pitches, and in that situation in the seventh inning he was trying to do everything he could to make good pitches," said pitcher Bruce Chen, who was Ventura's postgame interpreter.

Ventura had otherwise dominated Minnesota's lineup with his power, consistently hitting into the upper-90s throughout the evening. He struggled with his command, though, walking a season-high six batters and getting called for a balk in the third inning.

The right-hander walked the bases loaded with one out in the second, but got Chris Parmelee to hit into a double play.

"He's got the stuff to get out of it," Yost said.

Nori Aoki scored Kansas City's lone run after stealing third in the fourth inning. Suzuki's throw from home sailed into left field, allowing Aoki to score easily.

Hughes has won three in a row after losing three straight starts. He also has allowed only three runs this month. Casey Fien pitched to two batters in the eighth and Glen Perkins pitched the ninth for this 31st save in 34 chances.

"When you only score one you don't give yourself a margin for error," Butler said. "It's just one of those games where we couldn't get nothing going offensively."

Suzuki's solo homer in the eighth off Aaron Crow was his first since May 20, a span of 217 at-bats.

TRAINER'S ROOM:

Twins: A week after severely spraining his right ankle, RHP Anthony Swarzak appears to be fine and has avoided the disabled list. "He came and did everything out in the pen yesterday, actually simulated running off the mound going to first base. He's fine," manager Ron Gardenhire said.

UP NEXT:

Kansas City's Jeremy Guthrie (8-10) will pitch Sunday against Tommy Milone (6-3) in the third of this four-game series. Guthrie will try to bounce back from his previous start when he allowed six runs — four earned — against Oakland on Tuesday as the A's snapped the Royals' eight-game winning streak. Milone makes his second start for the Twins since being acquired from Oakland last month.

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