MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The Minnesota Twins felt the brunt of Joe Mauer's injury on Wednesday as the bats fell silent in their second shutout loss in five games.
Jason Vargas only allowed two runners in a diluted Twins lineup to reach second base as the Kansas City Royals won 4-0.
Vargas allowed four singles and two walks while striking out five in seven scoreless innings.
"We didn't get that many runners on to begin with," Twins second baseman Brian Dozier said. "We've got to hit and we're not doing it. We're streaky in all aspects right now."
Mauer was put on the disabled list before the game because of a strained muscle on the star's right side.
The Twins didn't give Vargas (8-3) any trouble. They were shut out for the sixth time this season and lost for the seventh time in their last nine games.
Mike Moustakas and Jarrod Dyson hit RBI singles in the second inning against Kevin Correia (4-10), and that was all Vargas needed. Relievers Wade Davis and Greg Holland worked the last two innings.
"Pitching in general, all three of their guys came in, pitched well and shut us down," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "Vargas is tough on us. Faced him a couple times here now, he's got all the pitches."
Mauer had just began climbing out of his hitting slump this season and was batting .371 in his previous nine games before his injury knocked him out of the Twins' 10-2 win over the Royals on Tuesday.
"We hit the ball well last night, everything fell into place," Dozier said. "But it was vice versa today. Tip your hat to Vargas, he did a good job."
Minnesota's double-digit runs proved to be an anomaly as they were without their top hitters on Wednesday. Shortstop Danny Santana, hitting a team-high .328 this season, is on the DL and catcher Kurt Suzuki, batting .304, was given the day off after Tuesday's game.
Eduardo Nunez, the only other Twins player batting above .300 right now, was placed at the top of the order on Wednesday, but went 0 for 4 as the Twins mustered just four hits on the day. Nunez homered among his three hits in Tuesday's win.
Chris Parmelee filled in for Mauer at first base and got two hits.
The Twins got a quality outing from Correia, who allowed just two earned runs in six innings.
Correia now leads the American League in losses, though he lowered his ERA to 4.95, the only time he's had that mark under 5.00 since his first start of the year. The right-hander completed exactly six innings for the fifth consecutive turn, and he has allowed two runs or fewer in four of those starts.
Correia allowed five batters to reach bases in the second inning, but he escaped with just two earned runs after striking out Billy Butler with the bases loaded.
"That's the way baseball is," Correia said. "I've gone out there and pitched terribly and gotten wins and pitched great and got losses, it's just the nature of the game."
Eric Hosmer, who walked three times, added an RBI single in the ninth inning for insurance.
Vargas improved to 4-1 in his last eight starts. He also became the first Royals left-hander to win at least eight games before the All-Star break since Chris George in 2003.
NOTES: Parmelee stretched his hitting streak to a career-long 12 straight games. ... One of the runners to reach second base for the Twins was Sam Fuld, who was originally ruled out on a steal attempt to end the fifth inning. Gardenhire challenged the call, which was overturned. Gardenhire is 9 for 19 on challenges this season.