KANSAS CITY -- The Royals, scoreless and mostly feeble at the plate for eight innings, needed one swing of the bat to turn fortunes.
Alex Gordon's swing.
Gordon's two-run home run in the ninth inning gave the Royals a 2-1 walk-off victory over the Twins and protected their game-and-a-half game lead over the Tigers for first place in the American League Central.
Alcides Escobar had opened the ninth inning off left-handed relief pitcher Glen Perkins with a bloop single.
Gordon stepped up and took a strike from Perkins. He drove the next pitch over the wall in right center field for his team-leading 16th home run of the season.
As he wore the head phones awaiting a television interview, Salvador Perez dropped a bucket of ice water on Gordon's head.
Until the ninth, the Royals looked doomed with bats that were missing in action.
After getting solo home runs for their scoring in each of the previous two games, the Royals couldn't muster that against Twins starter Ricky Nolasco to open the three-game series opener.
Nearly wasted was a superb performance by Royals starter Danny Duffy. He pitched six scoreless innings, got nicked in the seventh when Brian Dozier led off with a double down the left-field line, and Joe Mauer followed with a well-place single to center.
About the only excitement early on for the Royals, besides Duffy's pitching, was the glove work at first base by Billy Butler.
In the third, Butler worked like a Gold Glover, first tracking down Kurt Suzuki's foul pop near the tarp.
The hustling catch was nifty enough, but Butler held on to the ball after tripping over second baseman Christian Colon.
Two batters later, Butler gloved a two-hopper in the hole and got the ball to Duffy smoothly enough to nip the sliding Jordan Schafer. The Twins considered a challenge but replays showed the Butler-Duffy combo true.
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