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SEA@MIN: Hendriks goes the distance in tough loss

Twins outfielder Denard Span returned to the lineup on Wednesday night, providing an offensive boost to the club early on, but it wasn't enough in a 10-5 loss to the Royals at Target Field.

Minnesota would like to see another solid outing from Span and for the rest of the bats to get going in Thursday night's series finale to avoid a three-game sweep against Kansas City.

Span went 3-for-5 with two runs in his first game back from a sprained sternoclavicular joint in his right shoulder that sidelined him since Aug. 27. The injury isn't expected to fully heal until after the season, but he said his main motivation for coming back is to finish the year on a high note.

"We have to try to finish this thing off strong, and try to go into the offseason on a positive note," Span said. "And also, coming into next year, to give the fans some excitement. It's just real important for myself and the rest of the team to finish off strong."

Royals right-hander Luis Mendoza will look to shut down Span and the rest of the Twins' offense when he takes the mound coming off three straight no-decisions.

Mendoza gave up five runs in 5 1/3 innings last time out against the White Sox on 10 hits and one walk with three strikeouts. Mendoza's start against the Twins could be heavily dependent on how well he can keep his sinker down to get groundouts.

"I just concentrate on keeping the games close and giving my team a chance to win," Mendoza said. "I know I can do a better job, but sometimes I try to do too much. When I'm consistent and can keep the ball down, I have good results. The season has been pretty good but I wish the numbers could be better."

The Twins counter with Liam Hendriks, who is still winless in 12 starts this season but also is coming off a pair of no-decisions.

In his last outing, the Indians tagged him for four runs on eight hits and three walks in five innings. He was in line to pick up his first career victory when the Twins gave him an early four-run lead, but was unable to hold it.

Hendriks didn't fare much better in the other no-decision, when he gave up three runs on 10 hits in 3 2/3 innings against the Royals.

Royals: Lough back in lineup
• A strained right hamstring forced David Lough to the bench for more than a week, but he was back on the field Wednesday night against the Twins.

The 26-year-old started in right field and batted in the leadoff spot, going 2-for-6 with a run scored in his return.

Lough said prior to Wednesday's matchup that he was worried about the rain that fell before the game, but his hamstring, which he said has been fine for three days, held up.

In five games since rosters expanded on Sept. 1, Lough has fared well for the Royals, batting .304.

Twins: Back issues sideline Mauer
• Joe Mauer was out of the lineup for the second straight game because of back spasms, and though the injury isn't thought to be serious, there still isn't a set date for him to return.

"I walked in [Wednesday] and asked him how he's doing," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "He said not as bad as yesterday but still not ready to play baseball. All we can do is day to day. I'm sure this little drop in temperature doesn't help things out with a stiff back. But we'll see."

Mauer said his back originally tightened up before Tuesday's game while in the indoor batting cages, forcing him to be a late scratch. He's been a mainstay in the Minnesota lineup this season having played in 131 of the team's 142 games.

Worth noting
• Kansas City is 7-10 against Minnesota on the year, but has won the last three meetings between the clubs.

• Twins third baseman Jamey Carroll extended his hitting streak to 10 games on Wednesday with an RBI single in the fifth. He also matched a career high with three RBIs. Comments