David Lough wasn't necessarily looking to produce a game-changing hit for Kansas City in the eighth inning, but his tie-breaking homer turned out to be the key blow in a 9-8 win over the Minnesota Twins Sunday.
It earned the Royals a split of their four-game series at Target Field.
The Twins had just rallied for three runs in the bottom of the seventh to tie the score at 7-7 when Lough, who also had three doubles, drove a 1-0 fastball from Jared Burton into the right-field seats.
"I was just looking to get on base, really," said Lough. "That pitch was right in my wheelhouse, couldn't ask for a better pitch than that to be able to hit."
Lough and Johnny Giavotella, who have been paired at the top of the order through much of their careers in the Kansas City farm system, gave the Royals a solid one-two punch at the bottom of the order. Giavotella had three hits, giving Kansas City's eight and nine hitters a 7-for-8 day with five RBIs and five runs scored.
"It's kind of what we do; it wasn't any different for us hitting eight and nine right behind one another," said Giavotella, who has generally played alongside Lough for about six years.
"We've had some good games like we did today," said Giavotella, while Lough doesn't recall anything similar to his performance.
"I don't think I've ever had a day like that, not even in the minor leagues," he said.
The Royals didn't hit the ball hard early but were able to jump to leads of 5-1 and 7-5, thanks to some suspect play in the field by the Twins.
"We threw to the wrong base, we weren't smart with our defense, didn't know who was running twice," said Twins manager Ron Gardenhire.
"You saw no errors on the board, but not being aware out there cost us a ballgame."
Aaron Crow (5-3), who gave up Josh Willingham's game-tying double in the seventh as Kansas City's third pitcher of the day, picked up the win.
The Royals added a run in the ninth to make it 9-7, and Kansas City's Greg Holland allowed Trevor Plouffe's home run to lead off the ninth. Holland then struck out the side to pick up his 17th save in 19 chances.
Burton (1-5) was the losing pitcher for the Twins.
Chris Parmelee gave the Twins a 1-0 lead in the second inning with an RBI double off the right-field wall.
Kansas City countered with a two-run third, using infield hits by Lorenzo Cain and Giavotella, a bloop double by Lough and a sacrifice fly by Alex Gordon to take the lead.
The Royals made it 5-1 on the fourth when Lough hit a two-out, two-run double and later scored on Giavotella's single.
The Twins took advantage of some shoddy fielding by the Royals in the fifth to cut the gap to 5-4. Clete Thomas hit a two-run homer and Oswaldo Arcia followed two Kansas City infield errors with a run-scoring single. Justin Morneau's two-run homer and Willingham's pinch-hit, RBI double tied the score in the seventh.
Eric Hosmer gave the Royals insurance with a solo homer in the top of the ninth.
Royals starter Ervin Santana was generally in control for the first five innings. The only hard-hit balls by the Twins were Parmelee's double and the home run by Thomas.
Kevin Correia didn't pitch poorly for the Twins but was victimized by some well-placed balls that went for hits. One of the few balls hit well off Correia was Gordon's sacrifice fly to deep center field.
In five innings, Correia allowed five runs and seven hits while striking out three and walking three. He was replaced by Ryan Pressly to start the sixth.
NOTES: Minnesota's Joe Mauer went hitless in the series and is on an 0-for-19 skid against Kansas City pitching. ... Giavotella made his season debut at second base for the Royals, who called him up from Triple-A Omaha after designating outfielder Jeff Francoeur for assignment. ... Parmelee had only two RBIs since May 30 before driving in a run in the second inning. ... The Royals pulled off a rare 3-4-3 single putout when Hosmer deflected Eduardo Escobar's fourth-inning grounder to second baseman Giavotella, who made the throw back to first.