Royals host A's hoping to stay hot

The Kansas City Royals look to continue their recent surge as they battle the Oakland Athletics in the middle matchup of their three-game series at Kauffman Stadium.

The Royals kept the ball rolling in the series opener on Friday with a 2-0 shutout victory, which was their fifth win in their last six games. Kansas City's starter Felipe Paulino (3-1) surrendered only three hits during six strong innings. The bullpen did not give up a hit in the final three innings, which was capped by a Jonathan Broxton save.

Today, it will be right-hander Luke Hochevar's turn for the home team. Hochevar only pitched 4 2/3 innings in his last start, but he gave up only one earned run to the Orioles in that outing. The Royals' starter is 0-6 with a 6.39 ERA in seven career starts versus Oakland. Hochevar has also struggled at home, going 0-3 with a 9.87 ERA at Kauffman Stadium.

Despite the series-opening win, Kansas City's 6-17 mark is the worst home record in the major leagues.

"We just have to play better at home, it's as simple as that," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "We can come up with all the excuses we want, but it doesn't solve anything."

Kansas City showed an offensive spark in the first inning of Friday's win as Yuniesky Betancourt drove in a run with a double in his first game since May 1 and Mike Moustakas reached base in three of his four at-bats while also providing an RBI. However, the Royals were unimpressive the rest of the way. A no-out, based-loaded situation yielded no positive results and Kansas City ended up leaving seven on base and going 2-for-7 with runners in scoring position.

Oakland's Bartolo Colon (4-6) pitched well despite the loss. Brandon McCarthy (3-3) was activated in time to take the mound for Oakland today. The righty hasn't started since May 17 after heading to the disabled list with an injury to his right shoulder.

McCarthy went 3-0 with a 2.42 ERA in his last four starts before heading to the DL. The 6-7 right-hander will hope for a little run support from the frustrating A's offense.

Oakland was shut out for a major league-leading 10th time on Friday. It was the sixth time the A's were blanked in their last 16 games. The team struck out a total of nine times and left the same number on base.

One of the team's three hits was neutralized when Jemile Weeks was caught stealing.

"We're just trying to do a little too much, obviously, with the baserunning mistakes we made in situations where we're not running," Oakland manager Bob Melvin said. "In Weeks' case, he's just trying to do a little too much."

The Athletics are clearly in a quicksand like slump currently.

"It's getting embarrassing." said Josh Reddick, who went 1-for-4 on Friday. "You won't see it happen a whole lot from the 1-through-9 slot, where everybody's just not getting anything done."

Oakland won two of three versus the Royals in early April.