Liam Hendriks doesn't have a major league victory to his credit, and Minnesota Twins manager Ron Gardenhire has a pretty good idea why.
The right-hander looks to end his drought Thursday night while helping Minnesota avoid its first home sweep at the hands of the Kansas City Royals in more than 13 years.
Hendriks (0-7, 6.20 ERA) has let 4-0 leads slip away in consecutive starts, the first coming when he gave up five runs - three earned - and 10 hits in 3 2-3 innings of Minnesota's 8-7 win over the Royals on Sept. 1.
His latest rough performance, though, led to a 7-6 Twins loss Friday, when he allowed four runs in five innings.
Hendriks is in his second season and is 0-9 with a 6.19 ERA in 16 career starts, including four last season.
``I try not to think about it too much,' said Hendriks, who has 21 minor league victories. ``It's going to come.'
Gardenhire, though, said the Australian-born pitcher needs to be more aggressive if that's to happen.
``You get a lead, you have to go attack the strike zone,' Gardenhire said. ``If he wants to get a win in this league, you have to go attack hitters. If they beat you, make them beat you swinging. Not putting guys on, not going to 3-2 counts with every hitter. He hasn't been able to do it consistently.'
The Twins (59-84) haven't done much of anything consistently well all season, falling 10-5 to Kansas City on Wednesday.
Denard Span went 3 for 5 in his first game since Aug. 27 while he recovered from a sprained right shoulder. Jamey Carroll drove in three runs and extended his hitting streak to a career-high 10 games for Minnesota, which hasn't been swept at home by Kansas City since the Royals took all four games from May 7-10, 1999, at the Metrodome.
Kansas City (65-77) has won four of its last five - including taking two of three from the AL Central-leading Chicago White Sox in the previous series - and will look to finish its six-game road trip on a positive note.
Billy Butler, hitting .360 over his last 18 games, went 3 for 5 with three RBIs on Wednesday.
``I just think it's good for our young guys to get confidence," Butler said of the recent victories. "Outside of a 12-game losing streak (from April 11-24) we've played really good baseball. We've been really consistent after that, and it's something we can build on in the offseason.'
Kansas City seeks its first four-game winning streak since June 25-29 with help from Luis Mendoza, who is quite familiar with Minnesota.
The Royals have won Mendoza's last three starts despite him having a 7.63 ERA in that stretch. He gave up five runs and 10 hits in 5 1-3 innings before Kansas City rallied for a 7-5 victory over the White Sox on Saturday.
Mendoza (7-9, 4.63) has seen plenty of the Twins this season. After taking a 4-2 loss by allowing two runs in five innings of relief June 6, Mendoza has gone 2-0 with a 2.79 ERA in three starts versus Minnesota.
The right-hander allowed two runs in five innings of the Royals' 6-4 win Sept. 2 in the most recent outing.
Kansas City had dropped seven of the previous eight meetings prior to its current three-game winning streak over Minnesota.
The Associated Press News Service
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