MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Joe Crede hit a three-run homer in his return to the lineup, Francisco Liriano had his best start in two months and the Minnesota Twins beat the Kansas City Royals 7-1 on Wednesday night.
Crede, who had not played since Aug. 6 due to a sore right shoulder, needed two cortisone shots in the joint before returning. He showed no ill effects, hitting his 15th home run in the first inning and finishing with his first three-hit game of the season and the three RBIs.
Liriano (5-11), who last won on June 28 at St. Louis, allowed one run and three hits -- both tying season lows. He struck out eight.
The victory, coupled with Detroit's loss to Boston, pulled Minnesota within four games of the AL Central-leading Tigers.
Brian Bannister (7-9) was roughed up for a second consecutive start, allowing seven runs and nine hits in six innings. He gave up seven runs in four innings on Aug. 7, against Oakland.
Willie Bloomquist homered in the first inning for the Royals.
After Bannister retired the first two batters, the Twins rattled off five consecutive hits capped by Crede's blast. Jason Kubel and Michael Cuddyer scored on the home run after hitting RBI singles.
The five runs were the most scored by the Twins in an inning since getting six in the fourth inning of a 10-1 victory at Cleveland on Aug. 5, and were more than Liriano received in any start since his previous win.
The left-hander relaxed with the lead, throwing 64.8 percent of his pitches for strikes -- his highest strike percentage since his win against the Cardinals.
Liriano retired 12 consecutive hitters after Bloomquist's homer, the most since he set down 13 straight against Detroit on July 4.
Crede started the Twins' two-run fourth inning with a leadoff single followed by Delmon Young's ground-rule double. After Denard Span's sacrifice fly scored Crede two batters later, Orlando Cabrera extended his hitting streak to a career-high 21 games with an RBI double that gave Liriano a six-run lead.
Liriano was 0-3 in his last five starts and had an 8.71 ERA in his last two outings.
Matt Guerrier and Joe Nathan both pitched an inning of scoreless relief to complete the four-hitter.
NOTES: Royals manager Trey Hillman said a roster move will be made Thursday morning to activate RHP Gil Meche (4-9) in time to start the series finale. He has been on the DL since July 18 (retroactive to July 12) with a left lower back strain. ... Before Wednesday, Bannister had allowed four earned runs in 20 2-3 innings over his last three road starts. ... Bloomquist's home run ended a 4-for-38 slump. ... Crede's last game with more than two hits was a four-hit outing on June 6, 2008, against Minnesota while with the Chicago White Sox.