MINNEAPOLIS -- LaTroy Hawkins has the Kansas City batters thinking, which is just what the Minnesota Twins closer wanted when he came up with a curveball.
"I'm a fastball pitcher," Hawkins said. "This gives them something else to think about."
Monday night, Hawkins gained his 12th save in 13 opportunities as the Twins beat Kansas City 3-1.
Hawkins struck out Dee Brown with a curve to open the ninth inning. Second baseman Luis Rivas made a leaping throw to get Mark Quinn and, after Wilson Delgado walked, Hawkins struck out Luis Alicea on a curveball.
Hawkins backed up Joe Mays, who became the Twins' third five-game winner. Mays allowed six hits in eight innings.
Mays (5-2), who struck out a season-high six batters and walked two, joined Brad Radke (6-1) and Eric Milton (5-2) to give the Twins three of the seven AL pitchers with five victories.
The trio also ranks among the AL's top five in ERA. Mays (2.31) is second to Boston's Pedro Martinez (1.74). Milton is third at 2.48 and Radke fifth at 2.80.
"Who could have imagined that?" Mays said. "Who could imagine three Minnesota Twins would be among the top five in ERA? You would never have fathomed it would happen. I know it's above and beyond what I expected."
Mays has allowed only one run in each of his last three starts, although manager Tom Kelly pulled him with one out in the sixth inning of a 2-0 loss at Yankee Stadium last Wednesday.
Mays is relying more on his defense than last season, when he was 7-15 with a 5.56 ERA.
"I have the same pitches," Mays said. "I'm just being more aggressive with the hitters. I know if they hit the ball, if it's catchable, the defense will get it. It's simple. This year I shut the brain off and go pitch."
Doug Mientkiewicz homered for Minnesota, at 26-10 off to the franchise's best start since the 1930 Washington Senators. The Twins increased their lead to 1 1/2 games over idle Cleveland.
Dan Reichert (3-4) gave up two runs, five hits and five walks in seven innings for last-place Kansas City.
Notes: The Royals recalled INF Wilson Delgado, who was batting .270 at Triple-A Omaha, and optioned LHP Tony Cogan (0-2, 8.18) to Double-A Wichita. ... Kansas City 3B Joe Randa was a late scratch because of tightness in his lower back. Randa said he thought the problem might have come from playing on the Metrodome's artificial turf. ... The Twins won their 10th of 12 series. They are 8-5 against the Royals. ... Mientkiewicz extended his hitting streak to nine games and his AL-leading batting average to .410. Torii Hunter has a season-high six-game hitting streak. ... The Royals' Jermaine Dye hit a single in the first inning, extending his hitting streak to seven games.
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