Affeldt strikes out career-high eight in victory


MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Jeremy Affeldt gave the Kansas City Royals a
lift when they needed it most.

Affeldt struck out a career-high eight and Carlos Beltran
homered as the Royals beat the Minnesota Twins 3-2 Monday night in
the opener of a four-game series between the top two teams in the
AL Central.

The first-place Royals improved to 17-3 against division
opponents and 3-0 against the Twins -- all three decided by one run.
Kansas City is 3½ games up on Minnesota.

"Last year we had good battles with them," Affeldt said. "We
knew coming in that all four games are going to be battles."

Affeldt (3-1) pitched six innings, his longest outing of the
season, giving up two runs and seven hits. He struck out Jacque Jones three times.

"He came with it tonight," Minnesota's Torii Hunter said. "He
was throwing some gas. He did his job getting the lefties -- and
some of the righties, too."

Affeldt, making his second start since returning from the
disabled list with a blister on his left hand, provided a big boost
for a staff that had a 5.96 ERA in its last 16 games.

"He's got the ability to be a 20-game winner in the big
leagues," Royals manager Tony Pena said. "The more time we give
him to develop, the better he will get."

Jason Grimsley pitched two innings of scoreless relief, and
rookie Mike MacDougal got three outs for his AL-leading 11th save
in 13 chances.

Raul Ibanez hit a two-run single in the first inning. Beltran
added a solo homer in the fifth and finished with three hits.

Hunter homered for the Twins, and Matthew LeCroy had an RBI

Joe Mays (3-3) gave up six hits in seven innings, but control
problems cost him in the first.

Mays went to three balls on four consecutive hitters and didn't
retire any of them. After loading the bases with two walks and a
single, he gave up a two-run single to Ibanez.

"I put myself in a jam trying to find my release point," Mays
said. "It wasn't the regular me. I nitpicked a little too much."

Hunter saved at least one more run with two great plays in the
fourth. With a runner at first and one out, he made a running catch
of Brent Mayne's drive to left-center, then dived to rob Angel Berroa of extra bases in right-center.

Hunter got the Twins on the scoreboard in the bottom of the
fourth with his fifth homer of the season.

Beltran made it 3-1 with his fourth homer, which just cleared
the left-field fence near the foul pole.

"I made a good pitch," Mays said. "When I saw it leave the
bat, I thought 'F-7' to Jacque, but it just kept carrying."

LeCroy's RBI double cut it to 3-2 in the sixth. The Twins left
the tying run on third base in the sixth and seventh.

Mike Sweeney was back in the lineup at DH for Kansas City after
missing the past four games with a right hamstring strain. He went
1-for-3 with a walk.

Game notes
Jones was named AL player of the week after batting a
league-best .560. ... Royals 2B Carlos Febles missed his second
consecutive start after being hit on the right finger Saturday.
Desi Relaford took his place. ... It was the 162nd game of Pena's
tenure as Royals manager. He is 72-90. ... The Twins failed to
score in the first inning for the first time in seven games. ...
Twins RHP Rick Reed threw on the side for the second consecutive
day and will make his scheduled start Wednesday against the Royals.
Reed missed his last start because of a back injury. ... With the
Minnesota Wild hosting an NHL playoff game in St. Paul, the Twins
drew a paid attendance of just 12,199, and it appeared only about
5,000 showed up. ... Oakland Raiders quarterback and Twin Cities
resident Rich Gannon threw out the first pitch.