Austin dazzles with bat, glove as Twins beat Royals 9-6

Adalberto Mondesi #27 of the Kansas City Royals stands up on second for a steal past the tag of shortstop Jorge Polanco #11 of the Minnesota Twins in the eighth inning at Kauffman Stadium on September 16, 2018 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Tyler Austin hit one of Minnesota’s four home runs, made a spectacular catch while flipping into the dugout down the first-base line and helped the Twins to a 9-6 victory over the Kansas City Royals on Sunday that avoided a four-game sweep.

Max Kepler, Johnny Field and Jorge Polanco also went deep for the Twins, who had a season-high 18 hits and left nine on base while avoiding an ignominious start to their final trip this season.

Kyle Gibson (8-13) somehow lasted into the seventh and ended a four-start losing streak despite allowing five runs and 11 hits. The right-hander has never lost five straight decisions.

Jerry Vasto (0-1) allowed one run on three hits to take the loss in relief.

Ryan O’Hearn and Rosell Herrera staked Kansas City to a 2-0 lead with back-to-back run-scoring doubles in the first, but Minnesota slowly chipped away in building a 5-2 lead in the fourth.

Polanco began the comeback with an RBI single, but it was Kepler’s homer off Jakob Junis — on the pitcher’s 26th birthday, no less — and back-to-back shots by Austin and Field in the fourth inning that allowed the Twins to finally take control.

It was the sixth time Minnesota has gone back-to-back this season.

Brian Goodwin answered for Kansas City with an RBI single in the bottom of the fourth, and two-run shot by Adalberto Mondesi in the fifth allowed Kansas City to pull even again.

Polanco’s homer off Brian Flynn leading off the sixth allowed the Twins to regain the lead, and the Twins added a run later in the inning on an error to give their pitching staff a buffer.

EWW, GROSS

Twins pitcher Zack Littell left Saturday’s game after developing blood blister on a finger of his pitching hand. “It’s good,” he said before Sunday’s game. “Came in this morning and let them drain it again. Letting it dry up and then take a day or two off catch, then get back at it.”

EASY WITH EDDIE

Eddie Rosario (hamstring) was the DH on Sunday, and Twins manager Paul Molitor said he’s being cautious with putting him back in the outfield. “I’m hoping he gets there. I don’t think he’s feeling that risk is worthwhile,” Molitor said. “As it’s going, I’m getting him in there most days as DH.”

TRAINER’S ROOM

Twins: C Mitch Garver (concussion) was feeling better Sunday, though it’s still unclear when he will be cleared to play. “He’s got more energy,” Molitor said. “There’s signs he’s getting it behind him.” … 3B Miguel Sano (bruised leg) missed his 10th straight game. “He said he’s doing better,” Molitor said. “He told me he wanted to try to play sometime in the Detroit series.”

Royals: 1B/3B Hunter Dozier (back) was out of the lineup against Sunday. He’s been in and out of the lineup for the past week. O’Hearn started at 1B and Alcides Escobar at 3B on Sunday.

UP NEXT

The Twins continue their 10-game trip when they visit Detroit for three games beginning Monday night. The Royals’ final road trip also begins Monday night, when RHP Brad Keller (8-6, 3.04) is on the mound for the first of three games in Pittsburgh.