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Willingham, Royals topple Twins

USA Today Sports photo Minnesota Twins right fielder Oswaldo Arcia attempts to catch a foul ball in the stands during the first inning against the Kansas City Royals at Target Field on Friday.

Former Twin Josh Willingham had a three-run double in a five-run fourth inning to lift red-hot Kansas City 6-5 in the opener of a four-game series in Minnesota on Friday.

Alcides Escobar also had three RBIs on two hits and Alex Gordon added two hits and scored twice as the Royals improved to 11-1 in their last 12 and opened a 1 1/2-game lead over Detroit atop the American League Central. Danny Duffy (8-10) won his third straight start by giving up three runs - two earned - in 5 1/3 innings but closer Greg Holland gave up two runs in the ninth before securing his 37th save.

Kurt Suzuki went 3-for-3 and Oswaldo Arcia had an RBI double for the Twins in the opener of an 11-game homestand. Ricky Nolasco (5-8), making his first appearance since July 6, allowed five runs over six innings and retired the last nine batters he faced.

Eduardo Escobar and Jordan Schafer singled to lead off the fourth and Danny Santana followed with a sacrifice bunt, but Duffy threw wildly into right field as Escobar came home before Schafer scored on Brian Dozier’s groundout to give Minnesota a 2-0 lead. The Royals erupted for five runs in their next at-bat, loading the bases with no outs before Willingham cleared them with a double into the left-field corner.

After Mike Moustakas reached on an infield single, Alcides Escobar delivered a two-run triple to give Kansas City a 5-2 edge, but Minnesota got a run back in the bottom of the frame on Arcia’s double-play grounder. The Royals added a much-needed insurance run in the eighth on Alcides Escobar’s two-out single off reliever Brian Duensing to drive in Gordon.

GAME NOTEBOOK: Twins 1B Joe Mauer doubled in the eighth inning to extend his hitting streak to 16 games, matching his career high. ... Willingham, who was acquired in a trade with Minnesota after being claimed off waivers last week, had his fourth three-RBI game of the season and first since June 11. ... With Nolasco (elbow) activated after spending more than a month the 15-day disabled list, the Twins sent RHP Yohan Pino to Triple-A Rochester.