KANSAS CITY, Missouri — It had been a while since Mike Pelfrey saw a 'W' next to his game in the box score.
"We needed a lift, and Mike gave us one," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "He seemed to get strong as the game went on. We let him ride through the seventh. His splitter was good tonight. He used the curve and the slider. It was a pick-me-up game for us, and Mike gave us a lift.
Pelfrey's last victory was Sept. 23, 2013, against Detroit. He went 0-3 in five starts last year before undergoing season-ending elbow surgery on June 10.
"You feel good for a guy who has to go through all that rehab to get an opportunity," Molitor said. "He fought hard and was aggressive, and was rewarded justly."
Pelfrey (1-0) gave up five singles, walked two, hit two batters and struck out four. It was his longest outing since he went seven innings against Texas on Aug. 31, 2013.
"I pitched in a little bit and got them off the plate," Pelfrey said.
Glen Perkins got the last three outs for his third save.
Joe Mauer reached base four times with two hits and two walks and scored a run.
Royals starter Jeremy Guthrie (0-1) gave up all three runs and six hits with a career high-tying six walks in five innings.
The Twins scored all their runs in the first on three hits, two walks and a hit batter. Oswaldo Arcia was hit by Guthrie with the bases loaded to bring home Brian Dozier. Kennys Vargas and Dozier singled in the other two runs. Guthrie induced Kurt Suzuki to ground into a double play with the bases loaded to end the inning and prevent further damage.
The Twins loaded the bases in the second on Torii Hunter's double and walks to Joe Mauer and Dozier. However, Hunter was out trying to steal home to end the inning.
"The crowd told me," Guthrie said of knowing that Hunter was running. "I never really saw him. I was in my mechanics when I go into the motion. The roar of the crowd told me something was happening. I popped my head up and saw Sal (Perez, catcher) was standing up, so I attempted to get it to him as quick as possible."
Guthrie did not allow a run after the first, but he was never sharp, throwing only 50 percent strikes in 98 pitches.
"It's real uncharacteristic of Jeremy," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "The veteran pitcher in him allowed him to keep us in the game through five and get us in a spot where we can manage it."
Yohan Pino replaced Guthrie and threw three scoreless innings.
Twins: LHP Brian Duensing (right intercostal strain) started soft tossing Wednesday.
Royals: 2B Omar Infante (strained left groin) missed his third straight game. Manager Ned Yost said Infante could have played, but did not want to push him.
NO EXCUSE FOR WALKS
Guthrie said this was his third time to walk six in a game. "One time it was my first every start and the other time I had a hurt on," Guthrie said. "I didn't have either of those tonight. I was just a random to see if I can walk six, hit one and get through it."
Mauer's two hits raised his batting average at Kauffman Stadium to .331 (91 for 275). He has hit safely in 12 of 15 games season. He leads the club with eight walks.
Twins: RHP Phil Hughes (0-3, 5.30 ERA) starts against the Mariners on Friday.
Royals: RHP Yordano Ventura (2-1, 4.80 ERA), fined Tuesday for hitting Oakland's Brett Lawrie Sunday, starts Thursday against the Chicago White Sox.