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7/2/2014 1:09 A.M. ET

Nunez shines in role as leading man

With Dozier resting, shortstop bats first and has big night at plate

MINNEAPOLIS -- With Brian Dozier getting a rare night off on Tuesday, Eduardo Nunez batted leadoff for the first time this season and helped spark the offense in the Twins' 10-2 win over the Royals.

Nunez, making his second straight start at shortstop with Danny Santana on the 15-day disabled list, went 3-for-5 with a solo homer and a walk to pace the offense. It was just his second day back after missing 14 games with a strained right hamstring, an injury that had him on the 15-day DL, retroactive to June 15.

Nunez, batting leadoff for just the sixth time in his career and the first time since Sept. 29, 2013, credited the batters behind him for his big night.

"I liked hitting in front of [Joe] Mauer," Nunez said. "I got to see some good pitches. He's a great hitter. And then with [Chris] Parmelee and [Kendrys] Morales behind him, it's a big lineup behind me, so they're going to pitch to you for sure."

Nunez also scored three runs, including the first run of the game, on a one-out double by Parmelee after opening the first inning with a single off right-hander James Shields. He scored again in the third on a two-out infield single by Morales after drawing a walk to open the inning.

Nunez contributed an infield RBI single with the bases loaded in the fourth, but that time he didn't score, as he was stranded at third base after advancing on a two-run double by Mauer.

Nunez scored his third run of the night in the sixth, on his solo shot off reliever Michael Mariot. It was his third homer of the season and first since June 8.

"He was really good," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "He has a really good plan as a hitter. We missed him when he was gone, because we can plug him in just about anywhere and he gives quality at-bats."

Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, and follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.