Kyle Gibson bounced back for a rocky start to shut down Kansas City, and the Minnesota Twins held on through a shaky ninth to beat James Shields and the Royals 2-1 on Tuesday night.
Gibson (9-8) allowed only a single by Alcides Escobar in the third inning and another by Nori Aoki in the sixth over seven dazzling innings. He was at his best toward the end, too, setting down the Royals in order in the seventh on four seemingly effortless pitches.
Casey Fien worked the eighth before Glen Perkins ran into trouble in the ninth, giving up a leadoff double to Omar Infante and an RBI single to Eric Hosmer. Perkins bounced back to get three straight pop outs and record his 26th save of the season.
Josh Willingham hit a sacrifice fly in the third inning and Brian Dozier provided a run-scoring single in the fifth off Shields (9-6), who battled command all night. He threw 124 pitches - two shy of his career high - while walking four in only six innings.
Gibson, who was shelled by Tampa Bay his last time out, has made a habit of rebounding back from ugly outings. He followed a miserable performance against the Angels with a strong one against Texas, and a lousy start against the Yankees with six shutout innings against Seattle.
His outing Tuesday sure made entertaining TV for Twins manager Ron Gardenhire.
Gardenhire thought Royals left fielder Alex Gordon trapped the ball in the third inning when he made a diving grab to rob Chris Parmelee of a hit, likely saving a run. After challenging the call, Gardenhire was even more incensed that a lengthy review let it stand. He was tossed by plate umpire Ted Barrett after a nose-to-nose confrontation and watched the rest of the game in the clubhouse.
Shields had his own rather ignominious moment earlier in the third.
The Royals' ace was in his follow-through when the Twins' Sam Fuld sent a scorching line drive back to the mound, ricocheting squarely off Shields' left butt cheek and toward third base. Shields hobbled around for several minutes but ultimately remained in the game.
Twins: Catcher Joe Mauer (strained right oblique) swung in the batting cage and plans to hit live batting practice Wednesday. Right-hander Ricky Nolasco (sore elbow) also felt good after a bullpen session. He plans to throw another one Thursday.
Royals: Hosmer was back in the lineup after missing six of the past seven starts with a bruised right hand, while LHP Jason Vargas (appendectomy) also reported no problems after throwing about 60 pitches during a four-inning simulated game. "Today went well," he said.
Twins: Right-hander Phil Hughes makes his first start since leaving a game July 24 against the White Sox with a bruised right shin. Hughes (10-7) won his previous start in Kansas city April 20.
Royals: Left-hander Danny Duffy (5-10) threw seven shutout innings his last time out, only to get stuck with a no decision when the Indians' Corey Kluber matched him pitch for pitch.