Maeda, Polanco lead Twins past Royals 6-2 to stop skid

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Kansas City Royals starting pitcher Brad Keller throws during the first inning of a baseball game against the Minnesota Twins Sunday, July 4, 2021, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Kenta Maeda struck out a season-best 10 in six scoreless innings, Jorge Polanco homered, and the Minnesota Twins beat the Kansas City Royals 6-2 on Sunday to halt a five-game losing streak.

“I think all my pitches were working today,” Maeda said through a translator. “I thought I’ve lost my command the last few outings and today I aggressively attacked the strike zone.”

Maeda (4-3) gave up two hits and a walk in a splendid outing that matched his longest of the year.

“That’s the Kenta we’ve seen a lot of. It’s a marvelous outing and I think he got stronger as he went on,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. “I think physically he felt excellent and his stuff was really kicking up.”

Minnesota avoided a three-game sweep, building a cushion in the seventh inning when a two-run homer by Polanco and a solo shot by Alex Kirilloff extended the lead to 5-0.

Max Kepler hit a solo homer to right field in the sixth, his seventh of the season. He has seven hits, six RBIs, two home runs and six walks since returning from the injured list on June 18.

Polanco turned on a fastball and sent it into the left-field bullpen. Two batters later, Kirilloff also connected off Richard Lovelady.

Kansas City starter Brad Keller (6-9) permitted two runs, five hits and two walks. He struck out seven in 6 1/3 innings, his second-longest outing of the season.

“Maeda was pretty good,” Royals manager Mike Matheny said. “We got nothing for a long time, and he was what we thought he’d do.”

The Twins struck first in the third after Luis Arraez singled with two outs and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Arraez scored on Trevor Larnach’s single.

Larnach also singled home Arraez in the ninth.

Jarrod Dyson hit a two-run single in the bottom of the ninth off Hansel Robles to break up the shutout.

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