Royals' Asencio wins first start in over a month


KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -- Back on June 5, Raul Ibanez was hitting
only .198 and had just one home run and 14 RBI.

Since then, he's become a different hitter.

Ibanez, Chuck Knoblauch and Michael Tucker hit solo home runs as
the Kansas City Royals beat the Minnesota Twins 4-2 Sunday to snap
a six-game home losing streak.

After his slow start, Ibanez has turned into the Royals' leading
run producer. He leads the team with 22 home runs and 89 RBI --
including seven homers and 22 RBI in August.

"It was a 2-0 changeup up and over the plate,'' Ibanez said of
his third-inning homer. "Accidents and line-drive swings. I'm not
trying to hit the ball out of the park. I'm just trying to put an
easy swing on the ball and pit through the middle of the field.''

Miguel Asencio (3-4) won for the first time since July 14, going
0-2 in seven starts in that span. He did not allow a hit until the
fourth inning and shut out the AL Central leaders until Dustan Mohr
hit a two-run homer in the seventh.

"Whenever you see Asencio getting ground balls after ground
balls, that means his ball was moving really well today,'' Royals
manager Tony Pena said.

Cristian Guzman's infield single in the sixth extended his
hitting streak to 23 games. It's the longest streak by a Twins
player since Marty Cordova's 23-game string in 1996.

Asencio, a Rule 5 draft pick who was pitching in Class A last
year, held the Twins hitless until David Ortiz and Bobby Kielty
stroked back-to-back singles with one out in the fourth. Asencio
got out of that jam when Doug Mientkiewicz grounded into a double

Asencio scattered five hits over seven innings.

"Asencio threw the ball really well,'' Twins manager Ron
Gardenhire said. "He had a great changeup. We helped him out early
by chasing pitches out of the strike zone.''

Roberto Hernandez pitched the ninth for his 24th save in 31
chances. It was his 318th career save, tying him for ninth place on
the all-time list with Rick Aguilera.

Knoblauch, Tucker and Ibanez all hit home runs in the first
three innings off Kyle Lohse (11-8).

Knoblauch hit his career 31st leadoff home run and Tucker opened
the second with his 12th homer.

"You can't let a leadoff home run take you out my game plan,''
Lohse said. "You can't let it get to you. It wasn't a bad pitch to
Knoblauch. I tried to go inside. He turned on it pretty good and
got enough of it.''

Lohse, who shut out the Chicago White Sox on four hits in his
previous start, departed after five innings.

Neifi Perez, who had three hits, and Tucker doubled in the sixth
off reliever Juan Rincon for a 4-0 lead.

Game notes
Royals DH Mike Sweeney went 1-for-4, dropping his American
League-leading average to .352. ... Guzman is hitting .361 during
his streak. ... The Royals are assured of their 13th straight
losing month, equaling a franchise record. The club also had 13
consecutive losing months from April 1969 through April 1971. ...
Twins CF Torii Hunter, who was hitting .136 on this trip to drop
his average to .298, was rested Sunday. ... The Twins have won 10
consecutive series against the Royals.