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Sano powers Twins past slumping Royals 7-5

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Miguel Sano wrapped up April with another nice day. The young slugger is off to a great start with the Minnesota Twins.

Sano homered and drove in five runs, helping the Twins beat slumping Kansas City 7-5 on Sunday for the Royals’ ninth straight loss.

It was Sano’s fourth consecutive multihit game. He has 11 hits in his last 16 at-bats. He drove in nine runs in the two-game, rain-abbreviated series.

“I’ve been hot before in the minor leagues, but big leagues this is first time,” he said.

He finished April with seven homers and 25 RBIs. Torii Hunter was the last Twin with more than seven homers in April with nine in 2002.

“Miggy had a heckuva trip,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said. “He’s been a big force for us. He’s tough to pitch to. He seems to be handling all quadrants of the strike zone.”

Sano connected in the third after Jason Hammel (0-3) walked Byron Buxton and Max Kepler. He added run-producing singles in the fourth and sixth innings.

It’s the longest slide for Kansas City since a 12-game skid in April 2012.

“It’s tough to go through a stretch like this, especially when I know we’re better than what we’re playing,” center fielder Lorenzo Cain said. “What can you do? Keep playing, keep battling. Hopefully we can come out of this.”

The Twins finished April 12-11. They did not get their 12th victory last season until May 25 in their 36th game.

“It was good trip, when you win four out of five,” Molitor said.

Minnesota right-hander Phil Hughes (4-1) got the win despite allowing 10 hits and four runs in 5 2/3 innings.

“He’s been doing a good job as far as keeping major damage down,” Molitor said.

Brandon Kintzler yielded Whit Merrifield’s two-out homer in the ninth before finishing for his seventh save.

Cain went deep for the Royals, belting a solo shot in the fifth for his first homer since Aug. 16. Salvador Perez went 3 for 4 with two doubles, a RBI and two runs scored. The Royals’ 12 hits were a season high.

Kansas City jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the second. Perez doubled in Eric Hosmer and scored on Brandon Moss’s two-out single.

But Sano’s seventh homer put Minnesota ahead to stay, and Kepler had a run-scoring fielder’s choice in the Twins’ two-run fourth.

Eddie Rosario’s fourth-inning single extended his hitting streak to a career-high 11 games. Jorge Polanco drove in Minnesota’s last run with an infield hit with two out in the ninth.

Hammel failed to get out of the fourth for his second straight start, allowing five runs and six hits with three walks. Hammel’s ERA climbed to 6.65.

“I’m making the same mistakes, basically walks,” Hammel said. “I’ve got to clean up the walks. I’m throwing too many pitches per at-bat. Full counts every at-bat. Seventy pitches through three innings; that’s just not acceptable, so I’ve got to clean up the mistakes. It’s ridiculous. It’s amateur stuff that I’m doing right now, just trying to do too much.”

Rain delayed the start of the game 63 minutes.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Twins: SS Ehire Adrianza (right oblique strain) went 1 for 3 with a walk with Triple-A Rochester. He is hitting .304 in six rehab games.

Royals: RHP Seth Maness, who signed a minor league contract in February after he had elbow surgery last August, was activated by Triple-A Omaha. Maness is 17-10 with a 3.19 ERA in 244 career relief appearances with St. Louis.

UP NEXT

Twins: RHP Ervin Santana will start Tuesday against Oakland after an off day Monday.

Royals: LHP Jason Vargas will face the White Sox on Monday after losing to them last week in Chicago.