KANSAS CITY -- Cole De Vries hadn't been getting too deep into games in recent outings, but the right-hander turned that trend around on Saturday afternoon.
The rookie hurler tossed 6 2/3 strong innings to lead the Twins to a 3-1 victory in the first game of a doubleheader at Kauffman Stadium.
Postponed by rain on Friday night, the start on Saturday was delayed 21 minutes by more wet weather. With the win, Minnesota improved to 9-4 against Kansas City this season.
De Vries made it out of the sixth inning just once in the month of the August -- a seven-inning, two-run performance against the Red Sox on Aug. 4 -- and pitched a total of just 16 innings in his previous four starts. But, he was strong on Saturday, allowing just one run on seven hits and zero walks against the Royals.
"I think it's always positive when your starting pitchers are going deep into the game," De Vries said. "I try to do that every time, sometimes works, sometimes doesn't. This time it did."
The right-hander kept his pitch count down following a 21-pitch first inning. He threw just eight pitches each in the second and third and made just 76 pitches through six innings. At one point, after Alex Gordon's first-inning single, De Vries retired nine consecutive Royals.
The only rough patch was the bottom of the seventh, when De Vries allowed three singles, the final hit being an RBI base hit off the bat of Johnny Giavotella that chased De Vries from the game.
"Our game plan that we had on that pitch was good," De Vries said. "We'd been throwing everything away, so we tried to come in and get him to fist it, roll it over. I looked at the tape, and the pitch I threw wasn't really that bad. He just hit it enough to just fist it over third base. I jammed him pretty good, but he got me that time. I would like to have that one back."
De Vries picked up his fourth win of the season and has gone three straight starts allowing two runs or fewer. It was his third win of the season against the Royals, previously defeating them twice in June. He's allowed six earned runs to Kansas City in 17 2/3 innings this season.
"I feel like half my starts have been [against] either the Royals or the White Sox," De Vries said. "I feel like I know both those teams decently well, and I feel comfortable pitching against both of them, because I've pitched against them so much."
Minnesota struck first against Royals starter Will Smith. In the top of the first, Justin Morneau lined a two-out double into the right-field corner to score Josh Willingham from first base.
The Twins picked up two more runs in the top of the fifth, loading the bases against Smith with one out. Morneau drove in his second run of the game with a sacrifice fly to center field to make it 2-0. The next batter, Ryan Doumit, hit a pop fly that dropped in shallow right field for a base hit. Darin Mastroianni scored on the play, but Willingham was thrown out at third base by Jeff Francoeur to end the inning.
"The sac fly I didn't have a problem with, I made my pitch there," Smith said about his battles with Morneau. "It's the double in the first inning I'd like to have back. He's a good hitter, and he did what he's supposed to do with a mistake."
Smith departed in the seventh after walking Mastroianni to lead off the inning. Reliever Vin Mazzaro entered in relief and found himself in a bases-loaded, one-out jam. But he got Doumit to hit into a double play to end the threat.
It wasn't the offensive explosion the Twins had against Smith earlier in the season, when they plated seven runs and hit three home runs against the lefty on June 4, but he again took the loss, his seventh of the year.
Glen Perkins retired three of the four batters he faced in the ninth to pick up his ninth save of the season.
Vinnie Duber is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.