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MINNESOTA SPORTS ROUND-UP: Willingham returns to Minnesota to hurt former team

MINNEAPOLIS ( - Josh Willingham had a three-run double and Alcides Escobar also knocked in three runs, and the Royals widened their lead in the AL Central with a 6-5 victory over Minnesota in the opener of a four-game series.

Greg Holland surrendered two runs in the ninth inning, but managed to secure his 37th save of the season for Kansas City, which moved 1 1/2 games clear of Detroit in the division. The Tigers lost at home to Seattle Friday night. Danny Duffy (8-10) was charged with six hits and three runs -- two earned -- over 5 1/3 innings to get the win. Ricky Nolasco (5-8), who was activated off the disabled list prior to the game, gave up seven hits and five runs in six frames. Willingham, who was traded from Minnesota on Monday, batted sixth and served as the designated hitter. He also delivered the big blow, a go-ahead hit into the left-field corner in the fourth inning to plate Salvador Perez, Billy Butler and Alex Gordon with nobody out. Trevor Plouffe scored on a double-play grounder from Oswaldo Arcia in the home fourth, but the Royals widened the advantage in the eighth when Escobar's single scored Gordon.


Jia Perkins delivered 23 points off the bench, helping the San Antonio Stars clinch the Western Conference's final playoff spot with a 92-76 win over the Minnesota Lynx. Danielle Adams scored 19 points for San Antonio, while Becky Hammon had 10 assists in her final regular-season home game. Maya Moore led a Lynx team locked into the No. 2 seed in the West with 20 points. Minnesota, which has dropped three straight, closes out the regular season Saturday at home against Tulsa. The Stars play their finale Sunday at Chicago. The Lynx led by as many as six in the first quarter until the Stars went ahead for good in the second. Perkins' running bank shot in the final seconds of the quarter boosted the hosts to a 50-47 halftime edge. San Antonio steadily widened its lead in the third and headed to the fourth with a 74-64 cushion. The double-digit margin remained throughout the final quarter.


The Minnesota Wild signed Justin Falk to a one-year contract Friday. Falk was a fourth round draft pick of the Wild in 2007 and played with club from 2009-13. Last season Falk played with the New York Rangers. 


The Minnesota Vikings will try to make it two wins in two weeks at their new temporary home when they entertain the Arizona Cardinals tonight at TCF Stadium. The Vikings opened up a new era under head coach Mike Zimmer by flashing a much-improved defense in a 10-6 win over the Oakland Raiders. Rookie first-round pick Teddy Bridgewater finished 6-of-13 passing for 49 yards in his NFL preseason debut but paled in comparison to veteran starter Matt Cassel, who finished 5-of-6 for 62 yards. Second-year receiving star Cordarrelle Patterson caught three passes for 38 yards for Minnesota, which went just 5-10-1 a year ago. The rookie Bridgewater, who was selected with the last pick of the first round back in May, did see reps with the starters, taking over for Cassel after the Southern Cal product had led the Vikings to their lone touchdown drive on his only series of the game. The Cardinals, meanwhile, opened up the 2014 campaign - their second under coach Bruce Arians - with a 32-0 whitewash of the Houston Texans at University of Phoenix Stadium last week.