Danny Duffy trudged off the mound with the bases loaded and his team trailing by a run, and took a seat in the dugout to watch Jason Frasor try to bail him out.
He roared when the Royals reliever struck out Chris Colabello to end the threat.
"He came through with flying colors," Duffy said with a smile.
Buoyed by the clutch pitching, Kansas City churned out three doubles in the bottom half of the inning Wednesday night, scoring all their runs in an eventual 3-2 victory over the Minnesota Twins.
"Frasor was huge with the bases loaded," Royals manager Ned Yost said.
Just about everybody who stepped on the mound for Kansas City came up big.
Duffy allowed only a homer by Josh Willingham over 5 2-3 innings, despite walking a season-high six. Scott Downs and Kelvin Herrera gave back a run in the seventh, but Herrera struck out Brian Dozier and Willingham with runners on second and third to preserve the Royals' one-run lead.
Wade Davis worked a perfect eighth, and All-Star closer Greg Holland survived two wild pitches that sent Eduardo Nunez to third base by striking out Sam Fuld for his 28th save.
"Anytime you lose a battle like that it's frustrating, especially with game on line," Fuld said. "Holland made a great pitch. We battled him."
The Twins' Phil Hughes (10-8) showed no lingering effects from a comebacker off his right ankle that cut short his last outing. He allowed only three singles before the sixth, when the Royals were able to finally string together a series of hits that gave them the lead.
Omar Infante led off the sixth with a single and Salvador Perez added a tying double moments later. Alex Gordon followed with an RBI double to center, and Mike Moustakas pulled another run-scoring double just inside the first-base line to give Kansas City a 3-1 lead.
The Royals' bullpen and defense made each run seem huge.
Perez made the first of several memorable plays in the third inning, when he picked Nunez off first base with a snap throw. Duffy picked Fuld off first in the fourth, and Dozier was thrown out at the plate on a base-running mistake later in the inning.
"I'm trying to make an aggressive play," Dozier said.
Perez's best play may have come in the seventh, when he leaped from the behind the plate to grab a sacrifice bunt and throw the runner out at first. Herrera followed with his strikeouts to leave the go-ahead run standing on second.
"That was a big play right there," Yost said. "That was a great play by Sal."
WADE IN THE WATERS
Davis continues to dazzle in his setup role. His scoreless eighth inning Wednesday night gave him a 0.99 ERA in 43 games. The former starter is still the only pitcher in the major leagues with more than five appearances who hasn't allowed an extra-base hit.
GORDO DOUBLES UP
Gordon finished 3 for 4 with two doubles, the All-Star left fielder's first three-hit game at Kauffman Stadium since May 18, against Baltimore. It was the first time he had two doubles in a game since doing it April 12, in Minnesota.
WILLINGHAM THE LONER
Willingham has hit 11 homers this season, eight with nobody on base. That includes the last six. And the fact that the bases were empty when he went deep Wednesday night proved costly when Minnesota was unable to coax another run across until the seventh inning.
Twins: Catcher Joe Mauer (strained right oblique) took batting practice in the cage without any problems. Right-hander Mike Pelfrey began his throwing program after surgery on June 10 to relieve numbness caused by a nerve in his throwing elbow.
Royals: First baseman Eric Hosmer was in the lineup for the second straight night after missing time with a bruised right hand. He finished 0 for 4 with two strikeouts.
Twins: Right-hander Kevin Correia (5-12) attempts to beat the Royals for the first time in 10 career starts. He has a 0-5 record with a 4.91 ERA against them.
Royals: Right-hander Yordano Ventura (7-8) tries to improve his fortunes at Kauffman Stadium, where he is 3-6 this year. His last home win came in relief July 13 against Detroit.
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