Gload, Royals rough up Garza in opener vs. Twins

Royals 9, Twins 4

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Kansas City's Joey Gathright dropped down a bunt with his team leading by one run and two men on in the sixth inning. Matt Garza picked it up and tried to make a play at third.

"Right where I wanted it," Garza said.

The ball sailed past the base, two runs scored, Gathright reached third and the Royals rolled to a 9-4 victory over the Minnesota Twins on Friday to start a day-night doubleheader.

It was that kind of game for Garza and the Twins, who lost their fourth straight and are facing a meaningless final month.

"We pretty much screwed this one up," an edgy manager Ron Gardenhire said after the opener.

Ross Gload homered and drove in three runs for the Royals, who set Garza up for another rough game at home by scoring three times in the first inning. Minnesota made three errors and left 11 runners on base.

"They helped us, and we took advantage of it," Kansas City manager Buddy Bell said. "We started off better than normal. We've been struggling at times to score early."

Garza (3-5) gave up nine hits and two walks in 5 1/3 innings while striking out six. He was charged with eight runs, though only four were earned, and fell to 0-9 with a 6.40 ERA in 10 career home starts.

"Not worried about it. I'm eventually going to win here. Just keep pounding it out," Garza said.

Kyle Davies (2-3) beat Minnesota for the second time in three weeks, his only AL victories since joining Kansas City in a trade with Atlanta on July 31. Davies gave up four hits, three runs -- two earned -- and one walk in five innings while striking out five.

In a procedural move, Davies was optioned to Double-A Wichita after the game. He's expected to make his next start next week once rosters are expanded for September, when the Royals will sort out their rotation options for 2008. Bell said Davies, who has a 6.75 ERA in six starts, sometimes suffers from trying too hard and putting too much pressure on himself.

"It's OK to like yourself. It's OK to trust your stuff," Bell said. "He has good stuff and he competes, so it should be pretty good."

Gload's two-run shot against Matt Guerrier, who relieved Garza with one out in the sixth, capped a five-run rally by the Royals. The ball smacked one of the folded-up football seats above right field that was used the night before for a Vikings preseason game.

"They made a couple of mistakes, and the gates just opened up a little bit after that," said Emil Brown, who drove in two runs. "When we had a chance to get them, we kept going after them."

Metrodome crews worked past the wee hours to reconfigure the stadium for three baseball games in a span of just more than 24 hours. Friday's afternoon contest was a postponement from Aug. 2, the day after the fatal freeway bridge collapse near downtown Minneapolis.

The Twins and Royals will play again Saturday morning, with a first pitch shortly after 11 a.m. local time, to accommodate college football between Minnesota and Bowling Green later that night.

On a sunny afternoon before a holiday weekend with two teams out of the playoff chase, a season-low crowd of 15,736 came inside for an especially sloppy performance by both sides. Because the originally scheduled night game was ticketed separately from the makeup, Major League Baseball didn't consider this an official doubleheader.

Torii Hunter's homer in the first inning, his 27th, was Minnesota's only highlight of the afternoon. The third-place Twins came home deflated by a three-game sweep against division-leading Cleveland this week that grew their deficit in the AL Central race to nine games entering Friday.

Since June 1, the Royals were 41-38 and the Twins were 40-42 -- including the afternoon game.

Game notes
So much for bringing your glove to the game: One woman sitting about 20 rows up from third base held up a red plastic bucket to make a clean catch of a foul ball by Minnesota's Alexi Casilla in the sixth inning of the first game. ... The roof makes rainouts moot, but the Twins have played twice in one day at the Metrodome before. They scheduled a doubleheader in 2001 against the Athletics for promotional purposes.