MINNEAPOLIS -- — The Minnesota Twins stumbled home with a bunch of hitters in need of a boost, none more than Max Kepler and his 0-for-29 skid.

The guy who needed a spark the most was the first one to get it going.


Kepler went 3 for 4 with a slump-busting RBI to give the lagging lineup a lift, and the Twins started a vital homestand with a 4-2 victory over the Kansas City Royals on Monday night.

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In the win Minnesota came off a horrible west coast trip going 1-4, losing to the Dodgers and Angels. That setback dropped the Twins out of first place in the American League Central Division and currently sit two games behind Cleveland.

Jorge Polanco, Jose Miranda, and Gary Sánchez each drove in a run for the Twins, who moved within two games of AL Central-leading Cleveland (61-53) after the Guardians split a doubleheader with Detroit. The Twins (59-55) are percentage points ahead of Chicago (60-56) for second place.

Joe Ryan (9-5) pitched 5 1/3 innings for the win, deftly recovering from a two-run home run by thriving rookie Vinnie Pasquantino in the first inning.

Twins RHP Sonny Gray (6-3, 3.33 ERA) pitches the middle game of the series on Tuesday. RHP Zack Greinke (4-7, 4.29 ERA) takes the mound for the Royals.

Twins baseball is on ESPN 102.3/AM 1000 KSOO.

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