KANSAS CITY, Mo. — It started with a double by Alex Gordon, gained momentum on a single by Eric Hosmer and another double by Billy Butler, and then was capped off by a two-run shot from Lorenzo Cain.
It was a four-run eighth inning by the Kansas City Royals.
It was the kind of outburst that hasn’t happened often.
In this case, it carried the Royals to a 7-3 victory over the Minnesota Twins on Thursday night and to back-to-back wins for the first time since May 4-5. But the big inning also represented as many runs as the scuffling Kansas City offense had produced in any of its last 14 games.
“We’re getting better. We’re starting to come out of it,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “The offense looks like it’s starting to turn the corner a little bit.”
The Royals began the season 17-10 before winning six of their next 28 games, their collapse lowlighted by a franchise-record 11-game home skid that ended Wednesday night.
Now they’re on a winning streak, modest though it may be.
“We’ve always felt confidence. We had a bad May. That’s all I can say,” Butler said. “We had a bad May, but our confidence has never been wavering. You saw it tonight. We got down 3-0 and battled back and kind of exploded there in the eighth.”
The Royals hadn’t scored seven runs in a game since beating the Astros on May 21.
Wade Davis allowed three unearned runs before the Royals bullpen took control. Luke Hochevar, Tim Collins (2-1) and Greg Holland combined for four scoreless innings to wrap up the win.
“You can see a little more chemistry and contagious hitting-type things like tonight, and a little bit yesterday, chipping away and chipping away,” Davis said. “We’re not going to wake up and be the best in baseball, but we just have to keep chipping away.”
All of the Royals’ runs in the eighth came off Jared Burton (0-3), who allowed Hosmer’s go-ahead single and an RBI double by Butler before serving up Cain’s homer to left field.
“It’s not magic, guys. You either execute or you get executed. This one hurts,” Burton said. “We got off to an early lead. It’s a tough one to lose. We needed this series.”
Instead, the Royals won their first since taking two of three from the Angels in mid-May.
“At the end we kind of let it get away,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said.
Things began well enough for Minnesota when Jamey Carroll led off the game with a grounder that third baseman Mike Moustakas fielded cleanly and then threw over Hosmer’s head at first base for an error. Carroll ended up on second, and eventually reached third on a groundout.
The errors were only beginning for Kansas City.
Josh Willingham proceeded to strike out on a wild pitch that not only allowed him to reach base but also allowed Carroll to score. Two batters later, Ryan Doumit went deep for the second time in the series to give the Twins a 3-0 lead — all on one hit.
“That first inning had some weird stuff happen,” Davis said. “I just kept telling myself, ‘Keep it right there,’ especially when we scored the two runs. It gave me extra motivation to bear down.”
The two runs came in the second on a single by Chris Getz, and the Royals finally tied the game in the sixth when Hosmer doubled and Salvador Perez drove him home with a single.
That kept both starting pitchers from factoring in the decision.
The Twins’ Mike Pelfrey, whom the Royals tagged for six runs in two innings in April, went a season-best 6 1-3 on Thursday night. He allowed three runs on seven hits and a walk.
Davis needed 107 pitches to get through five innings for Kansas City, thanks in part to his shaky defense. He allowed four hits and three walks, but all three runs off him were unearned.
It was the first time he hadn’t allowed an earned run in a start since April 17.
“That’s kind of the way it’s been for Wade. He finds ways to bend a little bit but never breaks, or seldom breaks, but always gets his pitch count up high,” Yost said. “He gets himself into trouble and pitches himself out of it, and he did that again tonight.”