Bailey Ober hammered in Twins’ 6-1 loss to Royals

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There was a lot of hard contact made on Wednesday at Target Field, by both the Twins and Kansas City Royals — the Royals a little harder.

Nelson Velazquez homered twice and drove in three runs as Kansas City rang up Twins right-hander Bailey Ober for six runs, plenty for Royals ace Seth Lugo in a 6-1 victory in front of an announced crowd of 18,130.

The Twins entered the game with six wins in their past seven games but lost ground to the second-place Royals in the American League Central Division.

Velazquez hit a two-run homer in a four-run third inning and added a solo homer in the fifth as the Royals gave themselves a chance to split this four-game series that concludes Thursday with a 12:10 first pitch.

Salvador Perez drove in a pair of runs with a double and a home run — partnering with Velazquez for fifth-inning solo shots — and Bobby Witt Jr. drove in Kansas City’s first run and later scored in the third.

The Twins got good wood on some of Lugo’s pitches but mostly sent them right at Royals outfielders. Lugo (9-1) was charged with one run on six hits and three walks in six innings, extending his major league-leading innings pitched to 82 and lowering his earned-run average to an MLB-best 1.72. He struck out five.

Ober (5-3) allowed six earned runs on nine hits, three of them homers that traveled a combined 1,262 feet. He didn’t walk a batter and fanned four.

The Twins put the first two batters on against Carlos Hernandez in the ninth — a single by Jose Miranda and walk to Manuel Margot — but Carlos Correa was robbed of a double on a liner to third baseman Maikel Garcia, and pinch hitter Byron Buxton struck out swinging. Max Kepler then popped out to second for the final out.

Miranda gave the Twins a 1-0 lead in the second inning, hitting a fly ball to the warning track in left that scored Willi Castro from third base. But it didn’t last long.

In the top of the third, No. 9 hitter Kyle Isbel singled sharply to left and moved to third on a groundout by Garcia. He tied the game when he scored from second on Witt’s bleeding single into right.

Perez doubled to left to bring home Witt for a 2-1 lead, and one out later scored on Velazquez’s homer into the bullpen in straightaway center. It traveled an estimated 437 feet — with an exit velocity of 109.3 mph — and made it 4-1 Royals.

In the fifth, Perez hit a no-doubt solo home run into the ’pen to make it 5-1, and after Adam Frazier grounded out to first, Velazquez hit a solo homer into the left field bleachers to make it 6-1.

Lugo, meanwhile, was cruising until the fifth inning, when Trevor Larnach led off with a single to left. Lugo got Correa to pop out to first, but Alex Kiriloff walked to put two on with one out. Kepler then worked a 12-pitch at-bat but struck out looking, and Ryan Jeffers flied out softly to left to end the threat.

Right-hander Diego Castillo made his Twins debut, pitching two scoreless innings in relief. He walked one and didn’t allow a hit. In fact, relievers Steven Okert, Castillo and Cole Sands combined to allow one hit in four scoreless innings.

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