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Lohse gives up four runs in six innings

4/17/2004

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.