Series: Game 2 of 3

Minnesota leads 2-0 (as of 4/17)

Game 1: Friday, April 16
Kansas City7Final
Game 2: Saturday, April 17
Kansas City4Final
Game 3: Sunday, April 18
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Royals 4

(4-7, 0-5 away)

Twins 8

(7-4, 4-1 home)

    7:10 PM ET, April 17, 2004

    Mall of America Field, Minneapolis, Minnesota 

    123456789 R H E
    KC 103000000 4 11 1
    MIN 03401000 - 8 7 0

    W: K. Lohse (1-2)

    L: K. Appier (0-1)

    S: J. Romero (1)

    Lohse gives up four runs in six innings

    MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Henry Blanco understands that he'll go back to Minnesota's bench when Joe Mauer is healthy, no matter how well he's hitting.

    Blanco had a two-run double and an RBI single and Lew Ford added two RBI to lead the Twins over the Kansas City Royals 8-4 Saturday for the Twins' fourth straight victory.

    "Right now I feel pretty good and when you get a chance to play anything can happen," Blanco said.

    "Everyone knows when Joe comes back its gonna be his job and I have no problem with that," Blanco added. "That's what a team is all about."

    Blanco is subbing for injured rookie catcher Mauer and has four doubles, three homers and 10 RBI in 10 games after driving in just 13 runs in 55 games for Atlanta last season.

    "That's just good managing," Ron Gardenhire joked about the success of his backup, "light-hitting" catcher. "But, you never know what happens when a guy gets a chance."

    Carlos Beltran homered for the fourth straight game and Mike Sweeney hit a three-run shot for Kansas City, which has lost five in a row despite setting a club record with 16 homers during that span.

    "We're going through a really tough time and we have to face it and think about what to do," Royals manager Tony Pena said. "We will find a way to pitch better than what we're doing."

    Royals' starters in the first 11 games are 0-4 with a 7.79 ERA. Seven times they have given up at least five earned runs.

    Kevin Appier (0-1) was activated off the disabled list to pitch for the first time since Aug. 26, and he struggled. The right-hander, who had surgery in the offseason to repair a flexor tendon tear in his right elbow, lasted just three inning.

    He allowed six hits and seven runs-- five earned. He walked three, struck out two and had two wild pitches.

    "That was a really horrible day," Appier said.

    Kyle Lohse (1-2) allowed six hits and four runs in six innings. He struck out five and walked four.

    Beltran's fifth homer in four games, and sixth of the year, was a solo shot in the first off Lohse.

    The Twins came back with three runs in the second. With one out, Jose Offerman and Jacque Jones hit consecutive singles to put runners at first and third. Ford drove in Offerman with a single, and Blanco followed with a two-run double off Appier.

    But, Kansas City rallied right back on Sweeney's three-run shot in the top of the third. Tony Graffanino started it with a single. One out later Lohse intentionally walked Beltran to get to Sweeney, whose fourth homer made it 4-3.

    Minnesota took the lead with four runs in the bottom half, capitalizing on Appier's wildness and an error by rookie shortstop Andres Blanco.

    Blanco was in the lineup because AL Rookie of the Year Angel Berroa went on the 15-day DL with migraine headaches. Kansas City purchased the contract of Blanco from Double-A Wichita prior to the game.

    "It's the kid's first game," Pena said of Andres Blanco. "I played the game, I know how it was.

    "He was a little nervous, but nothing to worry about."

    Nick Punto led off with a walk, moved to second on a wild pitch and scored on Doug Mientkiewicz's RBI single. Corey Koskie and Ford each walked, around two outs, to load the bases before Henry Blanco drove in a run with a single.

    Cristian Guzman followed with a routine grounder to Andres Blanco, who threw wide of first base allowing two more runs to score to make it 7-4.

    In the fifth, Jones led off with an infield single off reliever Dennys Reyes and stole second and third before scoring on Ford's sacrifice fly.

    Kansas City loaded the bases off reliever Terry Mulholland with one out in the eighth, but J.C. Romero came in to retire pinch-hitters Mendy Lopez and Ken Harvey.

    Romero then got the final three outs for his 2nd career save and first since Sept. 29, 2002.

    Game notes

    Ford, subbing for injured star Torii Hunter, is 7-for-11 with a homer and six RBI in the last four games. ... Romero has allowed no earned runs in eight innings this season, with nine strikeouts. ... Of the Royals last 30 runs scored, 23 have come from homers. All 11 runs scored in this series have come off home runs. ... Blanco, from Carabobo, Venezuela, is the youngest Royal -- 20 years, 6 days -- to make his major league debut since Bret Saberhagen played just shy of his 20th birthday on April 4, 1984. Blanco was born seven days later, April 11, 1984.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press