KANSAS CITY, Missouri — The Minnesota Twins didn't have any problem putting runners on base Wednesday night.
Getting them home was another matter.
Double plays, lazy fly balls and weak groundouts resulted in 14 runners left standing on bases. Only a single by Josh Willingham in the first inning got a runner across the plate in a 4-1 loss that gave the Kansas City Royals their first win at Kauffman Stadium in exactly a month.
"A tough night offensively for us. We put a lot of people on the bases," said Twins manager Ron Gardenhire, whose club had won eight of 10. "You can all see that big number, leaving 14 on base. You leave that many men out there, you had plenty of chances."
The Twins jumped out to a first-inning lead off Jeremy Guthrie (6-3), but he escaped a bases-loaded jam with the help of a nice catch by first baseman Eric Hosmer to prevent any more damage.
The Royals answered in the bottom half when Hosmer reached second on an error and Salvador Perez drove him in with a single. P.J. Walters (2-1) walked the bases loaded, and David Lough's two-run double with two down provided enough runs for Kansas City for the rest of the night.
Aaron Crow got the Royals out of a bases-loaded jam in the seventh inning, and Kelvin Herrera worked a perfect eighth. Greg Holland put two runners aboard in the ninth before striking out Justin Morneau, Ryan Doumit and Chris Parmelee for his 10th save of the season.
"We're just not getting it done here now with runners in scoring position, myself included," Parmelee said. "It's something we've got to get better at. I just think we're putting pressure on ourselves with runners in scoring position."
The Royals are familiar with that problem: They were 2 for 27 in such situations over their last three games, including 0 for 7 in a series-opening shutout loss to the Twins.
"We've got to go out there and attack," Parmelee said. "We didn't do that tonight."
The Royals had dropped a franchise-record 11 straight at home over the last month, a period marked by offensive ineptitude that had resulted in a slide into last place in the AL Central.
It also marked the end for hitting coaches Jack Maloof and Andre David, and the return of George Brett to the dugout. The Hall of Fame third baseman was appointed interim hitting coach last week, and while the results still haven't been great, the Royals may be starting to click.
Billy Butler had three hits, including an RBI single in the seventh, and Mike Moustakas nearly drove one out of the park in the first inning.
"We hadn't just been playing bad here. We'd been playing bad in general," Butler said. "Hopefully this gets us going, gives us a little momentum boost, and hopefully we can carry this over to tomorrow, a tumble effect — it snowballs and we start building some confidence."
The Royals' defense played a big part in the win.
Hosmer robbed a fan of a foul ball when he made a catch near the Royals' dugout with the bases loaded to end the first inning. Then in the third, second baseman Chris Getz made a diving play to his left to pilfer Doumit of a base hit that likely would have scored a run.
Walters gave up seven hits and walked three in six innings, but his three runs were unearned after shortstop Pedro Florimon threw the ball away on Hosmer's grounder in the first inning.
The Twins defense tried to atone for the gaffe later in the game.
After Walters allowed a pair of singles to start the third, Moustakas grounded into a double play. Walters also gave up a single leading off the fourth before Getz grounded into a double play, one that proved timely when Alcides Escobar tripled moments later.
"We lost. I gave up three runs and we lost by three. Earned or not, they're still my runs," Walters said. "It was one of those days where I was little erratic and had to battle through it."
The middle innings were played through a persistent mist that at times turned to rain, giving the sparsely populated bowl of the stadium the look of a car wash. But the grounds crew kept the infield dry, and crew chief Tom Hallion never appeared close to calling for the tarp.
Much to the relief of the Royals.
After 11 straight home losses, they didn't want anything to hold up a long-await win.
"Tough streak," Butler said. "I'm glad it's over."
NOTES: The Twins left 11 runners on base on Tuesday night. ... Willingham has four homers and 10 RBIs in his last 15 games. ... RHP Mike Pelfrey will pitch the series finale for Minnesota on Thursday night. RHP Wade Davis starts for Kansas City.