KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- After seeing a curveball on the first pitch of his previous at-bat, Michael Cuddyer was looking for something soft. He got it and hit it out. Next at-bat, Cuddyer saw a pitch and reacted to it. Same result.
Two pitches, two approaches, one piece of history.Cuddyer homered twice in Minnesota's eight-run seventh inning and Denard Span added a three-run triple, helping the Twins turn a close game into a 10-3 rout over the Kansas City Royals on Sunday.A pitching duel between Twins starter Carl Pavano and Brian Bannister turned ugly in a hurry in the seventh, when Cuddyer hit the first pitch for a homer, then added a two-run shot that put the Twins up 9-1. Playing his sixth straight game in place of Justin Morneau (ear infection), Cuddyer became the first Twins player to hit two homers in an inning and the first in the majors since Boston's David Ortiz did it against Texas last August."A very special day and a very special scenario that happened," Cuddyer said after going deep twice in an inning for the first time on any level. "It was a pretty cool day."And an important one for the Twins.Pavano pitched seven solid innings, Orlando Cabrera drove in two runs and the Twins had 14 hits -- every starter at least one -- to sweep a road series for the first time since taking three games from San Diego from June 24-26, 2008. After a 2-7 start to August, Minnesota went 5-2 on its latest road trip, scoring 23 run in three games against the Royals to keep pace with the AL Central-leading Tigers."We knew that we had to start winning games and winning series," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "To come in here and play like this, the guys stepped up."Pavano (11-9) was sharp after a shaky outing against Texas on Tuesday, allowing two runs and eight hits in his seven innings. Bannister (7-10) wasn't bad, either, matching Pavano most of the way.Then came the seventh.Brendan Harris followed Cuddyer's homer with a double and scored on Delmon Young's single, chasing Bannister.In came Kyle Farnsworth -- and things got really ugly.Carlos Gomez reached on an infield single after shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt was pulled out of position on a hit-and-run. Alexi Casilla dropped a feathery bunt down the third-base line, beating the throw to first even with the infield drawn in. Span followed with a triple over the first-base bag and scored on Cabrera's sacrifice.Cuddyer ended the outburst with his 22nd homer and third in two games, a no-doubt shot to left. He came up again with two on the ninth, but couldn't come through, flying out to right. Still, three hits, two homers in one inning and three RBIs -- not bad for a guy filling in for the 2006 AL MVP."He's having a strong year," Royals manager Trey Hillman said. "He's a run-producer. Last year he was hampered by some injuries, so it's really not a fair evaluation me comparing him to last year to this year."Bannister's line ended up worse than it should have been: four runs and six hits in six innings. Farnsworth was charged with five runs and five hits in one inning.It ended in a familiar result: another loss for the Royals at Kauffman Stadium. Kansas City has baseball's worst home record at 25-39 and is 10-28 overall since just before the All-Star break."It was disappointing," Bannister said. "I felt like I had given my team a chance to win and we had been scoring runs this series, but Pavano did a good job of holding us down today. It was just a battle until that seventh inning."That one inning -- and two swings by Cuddyer -- was all it took.
Twins 3B Joe Crede was scratched with a sore back and replaced by Brendan Harris. Crede is listed as day to day. ... Royals SS Yuniesky Betancourt robbed Joe Mauer of a hit in the sixth with a diving stop to his right. ... The Twins hadn't swept a road series against an AL opponent since taking a three-game series against the Royals on May 27-29, 2008.