MINNEAPOLIS -- Obviously, the Royals enjoyed having Minnesota come into Kansas City this year, winning five of six games. Finally, though, the Royals had to head north to Target Field, where they really haven't done well.
Sure enough, the Twins prevailed, 3-1, as the Royals played the first of four games on an 84-degree Thursday night in front of 28,040 fans. The loss gave Kansas City a 9-19 record at Target Field since the downtown stadium opened in 2010.
Regardless of venue, they've never done well against Twins right-hander Samuel Deduno, who went seven innings and improved his career record over the Royals to 3-0 in three starts. The only run he gave up came on Salvador Perez's homer.
"He's been tough on us. Nothing's straight, nasty drop," said the Royals' Billy Butler.
Deduno pitched the only game the Twins won in Kauffman Stadium this year and also beat them last year for his first Major League victory, also in KC. He has a 0.93 ERA against the Royals.
"Sammy was fantastic and their guy was matching him," said Twins manager Ron Gardenhire.
The Royals' guy was Jeremy Guthrie, who rebounded from his worst start of the season to breeze through the first three innings, nine up and nine down.
Clete Thomas broke the spell by starting the Twins' fourth by rolling a single into center field. After an out, Josh Willingham singled and Justin Morneau's double to left scored Thomas. Oswaldo Arcia followed with a single for the second run before Guthrie induced a ground-ball double play from Trevor Plouffe.
"Today was much better, I was able to execute better," Guthrie said. "Even the inning that they got all the hits, I felt like they were hitting my pitch more so than hitting mistakes."
Royals manager Ned Yost agreed that Guthrie was back on his game.
"He gave up four hits in the fourth, but none of them were of the crispy variety, if you will. They all found holes, but they put two runs on the board," Yost said.
After that he walked Willingham and gave up a double into the right-field corner to Morneau. Willingham tried to score but was retired on a textbook relay play, David Lough to second baseman Elliot Johnson to catcher Perez.
Guthrie insisted his right hand was OK.
"It's all right," Guthrie said. "It hurt me, it didn't faze me."
In the seventh after an out, Guthrie gave up a single and a walk and third baseman Mike Moustakas booted a ground ball as the runner passed by him.
"I was trying to do too many things at once, Field the ball, tag him and throw to first. I didn't catch the ball first," Moustakas said.
That ended Guthrie's outing and left-handed reliever Will Smith gave up a sacrifice fly to Pedro Florimon for the Twins' third run before ending the inning.
"They had the bases loaded and Florimon up, who's hitting .095 against left-handed pitching, but he found a way to get the ball in the outfield," Yost said. "We've got to find a way to put the ball in play in those situations."
Perez homered to lead off the fifth against Deduno.
"I hit that little cutter he throws," Perez said. "All of his balls move. But I hit that ball pretty good."
The Royals threatened Deduno in the seventh as Butler and Perez each singled. But Moustakas couldn't get a bunt down and then flied out, Butler advancing to third. Lough struck out on three pitches and Johnson rapped into a forceout.
"He had a lot of stuff moving today," Lough said. "I was just being aggressive trying to get that runner in from third but three pitches and ..."
Deduno wasn't giving up another thing.
The Royals also created a stir against closer Glen Perkins in the ninth as Butler walked and, after two outs, pinch-hitter Lorenzo Cain doubled into the right-corner and sent pinch-runner Jeff Francoeur to third base. But pinch-hitter Miguel Tejada grounded out sharply to end the game.
"Perkins came in for us, very entertaining, some bullets, but outs," Gardenhire said. "That's all that matters right now is outs. Got through it with a nice win."
Sure, the Twins had the Royals right where they wanted them -- at Target Field.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.