KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- If any team knows about streaks, it's the Minnesota Twins.
In the first half of the season, they could hardly lose. But in the second half, they've hardly won.
Now, after a three-game sweep of the punchless Kansas City Royals, the Twins are hoping they're back on the good side of fortune.
"We were down. This game's all about momentum and confidence," said Brad Radke (11-8), who allowed three hits over seven innings in a 7-2 victory Sunday. "Once you start winning a few games here and there and get on a roll, it keeps clicking."
The Twins, who were 57-33 and five games ahead of Cleveland in the AL Central right after the All-Star break, had lost 29 of 38 and fallen into second place when they hit town on Friday and caught Kansas City without All-Star third baseman Mike Sweeney.
Now the Royals have lost six straight, all at home.
"Baseball is a game of streaks," said Radke, who had five strikeouts and didn't walk a batter. "After the break, we weren't doing so well. We hit well and pitched well this weekend. Hopefully we can get on a good streak now. We've got a couple of tough lineups coming up next weekend, Texas and Anaheim. But I think we're going to do all right."
No matter how many games they win, the Twins are unlikely to experience many innings like the fifth. They had four walks, five stolen bases -- one short of the team record for an entire game -- and scored five runs.
"It's a pitcher's dream to get a big lead like that," said Radke, who hadn't won in four decisions.
Blake Stein (5-7) had a two-hit shutout going when he walked David Ortiz leading off the fifth.
"I think they just put some good at-bats on me in that inning," Stein said. "I was throwing strikes but they fouled off a lot of pitches and then laid off a lot of pitches that were balls. I walked some guys and it seemed everything they hit found a hole."
Before the inning was over, Ortiz, Luis Rivas, Cristian Guzman, Corey Koskie and Torii Hunter all stole bases.
Koskie hit a two-run single and Guzman, Hunter and A.J. Pierzynski also had RBI singles.
"If nobody's on base, those hits don't hurt me," Stein said. "But the fact I walked those guys in front of them made it a big inning."
Mark Quinn was hit by a pitch and eventually scored on Dave McCarty's sacrifice fly in the fifth and Carlos Beltran had an RBI single for the Royals in the sixth.
The Twins added two runs in the eighth on Jason Grimsley's wild pitch and Rivas' fielder's choice.
It was the final game of the 10-game suspension Sweeney had to serve after triggering a brawl in a game with Detroit.
Without their All-Star, the Royals were 2-8.
"It's a big difference," Radke said. "He's the heart of their lineup."
Said Kansas City manager Tony Muser, "It will be nice to write his name in the lineup. I think we'll be better."
Notes: Eddie Guardado pitched in his 490th game, tying the Twins record set by Rick Aguilera. ... The Twins won the season series against the Royals 13-6. ... SS Guzman made an excellent running catch on Raul Ibanez's pop foul to end the fourth. ... The Twins set their record of six stolen bases against Seattle on Sept. 9, 1992. ... The Royals are a season-low 29 games under .500 at 51-80. ... It was exactly 10 years ago that Bret Saberhagen pitched the Royals' last no-hitter, 7-0 over the White Sox. ... It was the 14th time in 26 starts Radke did not give up a walk. ... It was the Twins' first three-game sweep in Kansas City since Aug. 6-8, 1999.
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