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MIN@TB: Pavano strikes out seven over six innings

The cellar dwellers of the American League Central get together on Friday night in Minnesota, looking to turn things around after rough starts to the 2012 campaign.

With back-to-back wins following their 12-game losing streak, the Royals moved into a tie with the Twins at 5-14 at the bottom of the standings as the teams open their three-game weekend series.

Looking to build off the series win in Cleveland, Kansas City will send left-hander Everett Teaford to the mound in place of scheduled starter Danny Duffy, who was scratched on Thursday because of tightness in his left elbow.

It will be just the third appearance -- and first start -- of the season for Teaford, who was dominant in his first outing of the season, tossing four shutout innings and allowing just one hit out of the bullpen. But he stumbled his second time out, conceding three runs in three innings.

Teaford was announced as Duffy's replacement following the Royals' victory on Thursday, in which starter Luis Mendoza allowed two runs over five-plus innings to earn the win.

"I just hope I can do what Mendoza did today and get it to our great bullpen," said Teaford, who went 2-1 with a 3.37 ERA in his only three career starts, at the end of last season.

Carl Pavano, starting for Minnesota, is coming off a solid outing against Tampa Bay on Saturday, when he came out with the loss despite allowing just two earned runs over six innings with a season-high seven strikeouts.

"I'm assuming it's more life on my fastball," Pavano said of the increase in strikeouts. "There's more difference between my fastball and changeup. The changeup is moving down more, my location's better, and I'm getting stronger and making better pitches. I'm executing, and it gives me more weapons to use."

Pavano is generally not a strikeout pitcher, and he typically depends on his defense behind him. That defense is something manager Ron Gardenhire believes the club can always improve upon.

"Pitching and defense win a lot of ballgames, especially close ones," Gardenhire said. "So we're working hard on that."

Royals: Duffy's injury not serious
The tightness in his left elbow keeping Duffy from his scheduled start is not considered serious. Despite sitting out the series opener with the Twins, he is expected to make his next start, at Detroit on Wednesday.

Duffy doesn't seem concerned at all, tweeting from @dduffkc23: "i appreciate all the love! The elbow is "feelin good, feelin alrighttt, yeaaa.." Ill be back next start!"

• The Royals are 5-4 on the road this season, but they are winless in 10 games at home. They don't return to Kauffman Stadium until May 3, when they open a seven-game homestand against the Yankees and Red Sox.

Twins: Willingham welcomes another son
The Twins placed left fielder Josh Willingham on paternity leave on Wednesday so he could be present at the birth of his third son, Rogan James. Ben Revere was recalled to take Willingham's place until his return, which is expected to come on Saturday.

Revere, who started in left field on Wednesday and went 2-for-5, is hoping to make his stay in the bigs last.

"They said it would be three days or the rest of the season," Revere said. "It's a big gap. I won't mind that. [I just want to] go out there these three days, just get my games in, get my at-bats, anything I can do to help this team win. Hopefully, I can stay."

• Twins starters are 2-11 with just three quality starts through the season's first 19 games.

• The Twins have been swept three times this season after losing all three games to the Red Sox this week.

Worth noting
• The Royals' Billy Butler is hitting .429 with two homers and a .673 slugging percentage in 49 career at-bats against Pavano.

• Friday's game is the first of 18 meetings between Minnesota and Kansas City this season. The Twins won the season series in 2011, 10-8, and haven't lost a season series since the Royals took 11 of 19 in 2003.

• The Twins have been outscored by 38 runs this season, the most in baseball. Comments