KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Jon Rauch begged for a second chance and made the most of it for Minnesota.
Joe Mauer matched a career high with five hits, Denard Span singled home the go-ahead run in the 12th inning and Rauch finally closed out the Twins' 9-7 victory over the Kansas City Royals on Saturday night.Rauch squandered a one-run lead in the 11th, then pleaded with manager Ron Gardenhire to send him back out for the next inning."It's a game where everybody is battling their tail off and then I'm the one who comes in and screws up," Rauch said. "I had to make it right. I'm a better pitcher than that. I made two really bad pitches to two really good hitters and it almost cost us the game."Rauch (1-0) had been perfect in his first six save opportunities while filling in for injured All-Star Joe Nathan as the Twins' closer, but he gave up a tying double to Jose Guillen in the 11th.Billy Butler, who made an error in the top of the 11th that led to an unearned run, opened the bottom half with a single, his fourth hit. Willie Bloomquist ran for Butler and scored on Guillen's double to tie it at 7."I begged bad to go back out there," Rauch said. "It took some convincing and getting in Gardy's ear to get me back out there. I felt like I let the team down and I wanted to go back out there and show them I'm a better pitcher than that."In the 12th, Rauch held on with the help of a disputed call.With a runner on first, Twins shortstop J.J. Hardy bobbled Bloomquist's two-out grounder before tossing to second for a force on Scott Podsednik.Replays showed Podsednik beat the throw, but second base umpire Greg Gibson emphatically called him out, ending the game. Royals manager Trey Hillman came out to argue with Gibson to no avail."It was a terribly missed call," Hillman said. "We're battling our butt off trying to get back in it right there. We've got Brayan Pena, who can hit the ball out or can hit one to the gap for us. Willie can score on a double. We can tie it up. We might win it."Said Gardenhire: "All I saw was the umpire said he was out and we're shaking hands. I don't really give a flip whether he was out or safe."Rauch said he hadn't seen replays of the game-ending play."I looked back and they called him out," Rauch said. "OK, game over. It is what it is. Umps aren't perfect either. If they made a bad call, I haven't seen it."Justin Morneau hit a tying, two-run homer in the seventh for the Twins, who overcame an early 5-1 deficit. Mauer, last year's AL MVP, finished 5 for 6 with two RBIs, including a sacrifice fly in the 12th that gave Minnesota an insurance run.Delmon Young led off the Minnesota 12th with a double off Robinson Tejeda (1-2), the sixth of seven Royals pitchers. After Hardy walked and Alexi Casilla's bunt single loaded the bases, Span's soft single over a drawn-in infield scored Young.Michael Cuddyer's sacrifice fly in the 11th scored Orlando Hudson, who reached base when Butler failed to field his popup to first. Hudson advanced to third on Mauer's fifth hit, a single to center."I probably should have caught it," Butler said. "It was the rain."Mauer also had a triple and a double in the third five-hit game of his career. The previous one was Aug. 29, 2008, at Oakland.The Royals loaded the bases in the 10th on singles by Jason Kendall and Alex Gordon and an intentional walk to David DeJesus. Podsednik, leading the AL in hitting, flied out to end the inning.The Twins have won 12 of their past 14 games against the Royals, including nine of their last 10 at Kauffman Stadium.Royals right-hander Luke Hochevar left with a 6-4 lead that lasted just one pitch because Morneau hit a two-run homer on the first delivery from John Parrish. It was the fifth blown save in nine opportunities by the Kansas City bullpen."On the bench from the time the game started, they were hooting and hollering, let's go, saying it was going to be a long ballgame, it's not over," Gardenhire said. "They are on a mission. There was no quitting in them tonight."The Royals jumped out to a 4-0 lead. Twins starter Nick Blackburn gave up six runs -- five earned -- in 4 1/3 innings, with 13 of his 25 batters reaching base on 10 hits, two walks and a hit batter.Rick Ankiel, who snapped an 0-for-19 skid when he led off the Royals' third with a double, left in the fifth inning with a mild right quadriceps strain.
Gardenhire said INF Nick Punto, on the disabled list with a right hip flexor strain, was to have an MRI in Minneapolis. ... Hudson's fielding miscue at 2B in the third inning was only the Twins' second error this season.