MINNEAPOLIS -- Now it's three straight victories, topped off by an escape from last place.
These are better times for the Royals who bumped off the Minnesota Twins, 7-6, and bumped them into last place alone on Friday night as 33,315 hardy fans sat in at chilly Target Field. It's almost enough to make the Royals forget that dreary 12-game skid.
"We did everything right tonight, it felt like. We played good baseball," the Royals' Mike Moustakas said. "But we'd been playing good baseball to this point and now things are starting to go our way a little bit."
The Royals, saved by Jeff Francoeur's diving catch in the seventh inning, broke a 5-5 tie in the eighth with two runs. Francoeur doubled high off the left-field wall and scored on Moustakas' single to center against Brian Duensing. Jeff Gray came in and walked Yuniesky Betancourt and gave up a two-out RBI single to Alcides Escobar.
"Clutch hitting, power hitting, some pretty darn good clutch pitching, some really good defense," Royals manager Ned Yost said.
The power hitting came in the form of early two-run homers by Alex Gordon and Billy Butler, who added an RBI single that gave the Royals a 5-4 lead in the fifth inning. All of that came against right-hander Carl Pavano.
"I didn't give a lot of hits but the ones I gave up were homers," Pavano said. "Two two-run homers doesn't help at all."
The Royals' clutch pitching included rookie Kelvin Herrera extricating Louis Coleman from a jam in the eighth inning with just one run scoring, maintaining the lead. Then, in the ninth, big Jonathan Broxton whizzed through the Twins in order with two strikeouts for his third save.
"That's the guy I watched two years ago in L.A.," Francoeur said of the two-time Dodgers All-Star.
For defense, the Royals had two superb plays by shortstop Escobar, who made an acrobatic catch of catcher Brayan Pena's throw and tagged Denard Span on the head as he tried to steal second. Escobar also ranged to the second-base side of the infield to turn a pitcher-deflected bouncer into an out.
Gordon, in the second inning, saved a home run by leaping against the left-field wall to snare Danny Valencia's high drive.
"I've always been trying to rob a [home run] ever since I've been playing the outfield and that was my first one, so it was great. It was [Everett] Teaford's first start so I was just trying to help him out a little bit," Gordon said. "I just brought it down and threw it back in. I acted like I'd done it before."
Francoeur's clutch catch came in the seventh inning.
Lefty Jose Mijares, a Twin in the last four seasons, entered the game in relief for the Royals. ("I felt a little nervous out in the bullpen," he admitted.) Mijares gave up Jamey Carroll's single and hit Joe Mauer with a pitch before Justin Morneau's sinking liner was snagged nicely by center fielder Jarrod Dyson. Ryan Doumit's line drive sped toward Francoeur, who dove and speared the ball just off the grass, then threw to first base to double off Mauer for the third out.
At least that was the judgment of first-base umpire Brian Gorman. Twins manager Ron Gardenhire questioned his wisdom, thinking perhaps the ball touched green on its way into Francoeur's glove.
"He just said he thought he caught it," Gardenhire said of his conversation with the ump. "I tried to explain that he had his glove to the ground and it's hard to catch the ball that way. But he said he caught it."
As for Francoeur, he was certain he did not trap the ball.
"I'll tell you this: Whenever I've trapped a ball in the past, I've always felt it catching in my glove and I never felt that," Francoeur said. "I never felt it hit the ground. I got up right away and threw to first base. I'm dang sure I caught it."
So waddya know? Things seem to be going the Royals' way for a change.
Even with just four innings from Teaford, in a spot start for sore-elbowed Danny Duffy, the Royals managed to find a winning formula.
"That's a perfect example of a team win, right there," Teaford said.
"We're just out there having fun and playing like we should," Broxton said. "Even in that 12-game losing streak we were playing fairly well. ... Once you get on the other side of it, they're all pretty."
A reporter asked Yost if this type of win might trigger a winning streak.
"We've got a streak going, we've won three in a row," Yost said.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.