The Royals turned a blowout into a nail-biter but had enough left to outlast the Twins 11-8 on Wednesday at Kauffman Stadium.
An early nine-run lead was reduced to one after six innings and the Royals were headed toward an epic collapse until a couple of turning points.
First, reliever Kevin McCarthy, pitching for the fourth time in five games, settled bullpen turbulence with a clean seventh inning.
"I was thinking if we get through this and get it to Mac I think we're going to be in pretty good shape," Royals manager Ned Yost said.
McCarthy retired the Twins in order in the seventh and collected the victory, improving his record to 4-2.
"He's one of those guys you have a lot of confidence in anytime he gets in the game," Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas said.
Hunter Dozier then drove the first pitch of the Royals’ seventh over the left-field wall for his first major-league home run and gave his team some breathing room.
"I didn't know that was his first major-league home run," Yost said. "It kind of caught me off guard. I've seen him hit homers, smash the ball all over the park in spring training. This was cool to see."
And something of a relief for Dozier.
"It's a good feeling," said Dozier, who first homer came in his 72nd major-league at-bat. "I feel like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders. I'd been close."
The Royals seemed to have created all the comfort they would need with two runs in the first and seven in the second inning. Everyone pitched in. The first nine runs were scored by nine players.
Moustakas drove in four of them. Left fielder Eddie Rosario misplayed a line drive into a two-run double in the first.
In the second, Moustakas got under a Fernando Romero pitch and lofted it toward the right-field corner. The ball dropped over the wall, 339 feet from home plate for a two-run homer. According to Statcast, the 46-degree launch angle was the highest of any home run in the major leagues this season.
"That will work," Moustakas said.
Jorge Soler soon followed with what appeared to be another two-run shot. But the ball didn’t clear the fence. It bounced off the top of the wall and back onto the field and ruled a double. The Royals got the run, however, when Alex Gordon followed with an RBI single.
Yost was shown a photograph of the ball hitting the wall after his postgame news conference and saw the ball might have caught more of the corner of the fence. "Weird bounce," Yost said.
Ryan Goins then collected his second base hit of the inning, a two-run triple to right field that made it 9-0.
Clean sailing, right? The offense had given the Royals’ Brad Keller, making his first major-league start, an ample cushion.
The plan for Keller, starting in place of injured Eric Skoglund, was to throw 50-60 pitches. He logged 51. Trevor Oaks, summoned from Class AAA Omaha earlier in the day, was next up for a long relief assignment.
The Twins chipped Keller for one, and Oaks surrendered three runs in fewer than two innings.
The Twins kept pouring it on, scoring two in the fifth and four in the sixth to make it 9-8.
A Royals bullpen that had contributed eight scoreless innings in a 14-inning victory the previous evening had been tagged for seven in three frames.
But the feeling shifted in the seventh with the work of McCarthy and Dozier. The Royals got another blast in the eighth when Soler powered his eighth home run this season and matched a career high with a four-hit game.
Streaking: Until the seventh inning, Jon Jay was the only Royals player without a hit. But he extended his hitting streak to 12 games with a single. It was Jay's 43rd hit of May. Only George Brett, with 48 hits in 1976 and 47 in 1979, has more hits in the month for the Royals.
Next: The Royals are off Thursday. The Oakland A’s arrive for a three-game series beginning Friday. Ian Kennedy (1-5) will oppose the A’s Frankie Montas (1-0) in the opener.