MINNEAPOLIS -- The script appeared written: With the score tied in the eighth inning, Joe Mauer led off with a line drive. Royals left fielder Esteban German tracked the ball, but misplayed it -- the sphere nicking his glove and tumbling to the ground. Mauer stood on second, and it seemed only a matter of time before the Twins singled him in and summoned All-Star closer Joe Nathan to finish things off. Only Kansas City didn't play along. Reliever John Bale composed himself and retired three straight -- Justin Morneau, Jason Kubel and Mike Redmond. The game required extra innings and David DeJesus rewarded a stellar day from the bullpen with a game-winning RBI single in the 10th as the Royals won, 3-2, amidst 20,138 at the Metrodome.
"It was probably tough to read coming in sidearm and spinning back the other way -- that's a tough one to catch," Bale said. "I knew I had to bear down there with a man on second, do a good job, just keep the ball down." "He did a great job, especially where he was in the lineup there, with their most productive and best execution guys," manager Trey Hillman said of Bale. Both clubs inflicted the majority of the offensive damage early, twice swapping runs. Minnesota got on the board on Morneau's RBI double off Kansas City starter Brandon Duckworth in the first inning. The Royals responded in the second with an RBI double by German off Twins starter Francisco Liriano. Minnesota reclaimed the lead with a Carlos Gomez single in the bottom of the second, but Kansas City quickly retied the game on Jose Guillen's RBI double in the third. "What was big was when they scored, we would come back and score a run," Duckworth said. "Anytime they scored a run, I'm wanting to put up a zero. That didn't happen the second time, but after that, once we scored and tied the game, I was able to hold them at that, so I think that was big -- making sure to keep us right there." And thus a game that threatened to light up the scoreboard swiftly turned into a pitchers' duel. Duckworth was pulled after surrendering consecutive singles to lead off the sixth, and ceded to a bullpen that proved stellar. Ron Mahay swiftly cleaned up Duckworth's mess, striking out Kubel and coaxing an inning-ending double play from Redmond. "What can I say about Ron coming in and getting those outs and turning the double play? I mean, that was huge," Duckworth said. Mahay pitched 1 2/3 scoreless innings and gave way to Bale, who shut the Twins out for 1 1/3 perfect frames. Ramon Ramirez struck out two in a scoreless ninth to help ensure extra innings. Kansas City received one-out singles from Mark Teahen and Alberto Callaspo in the 10th off Minnesota reliever Matt Guerrier. Twins manager Ron Gardenhire summoned lefty Dennys Reyes from the 'pen to face DeJesus, who slapped the first pitch he saw to right field to score the game-winning run. "I just wanted something up. I saw a slider and was able to hit it where Morneau wasn't going to catch it," DeJesus said. "I wanted to be aggressive with him -- it was up and over the plate. I didn't want to wait around, because as he gets later in the count, he gets tougher." Closer Joakim Soria slammed the door in the bottom half of the frame and recorded his 36th save. The Royals were able to wait out Liriano, who went eight innings and allowed two earned runs while striking out six. "I felt like Liriano, from the third inning on, was as good as I have ever seen him," Hillman said. "I haven't ever seen in-person the power that he had to his pitches before the surgery, but that changeup was nasty, and he was cutting the ball in and locating his fastball." "We got two early, and he just pretty much got in that groove and was able to shut us down," DeJesus said. "He was on top of his game." In facing Liriano, a pitcher who is 5-0 with a 1.58 ERA in eight starts since being recalled from Triple-A on Aug. 1, Duckworth just wanted to keep his team in the game as long as he could. "You can't try to get too cute and try to be better, or do other things that you really aren't capable of, because that's when you get into trouble and that's when they are able to put a lot of runs on the board," Duckworth said. "You just have to try to match him pitch for pitch and do whatever you can to give yourselves a chance to win." All told, the Royals shut the Twins out for eight frames after the second inning. The bullpen accounted for five of the zeroes that adorned the scoreboard. "There was no margin for error and they did an unbelievable job," Duckworth said. "That's a big win for us." The victory provides a pick-me-up for a club leaving for Cleveland on Thursday night to embark on a four-game series over the weekend, with a doubleheader on Saturday. It also allowed the Royals to prevent a three-game sweep. "We just have to build off this," DeJesus said. "Tomorrow, we are facing another tough lefty [in All-Star Cliff Lee]. We are going to have to go out there and grind like today."
Thor Nystrom is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.