Royals turn to Paulino hoping for series win over Twins

Dominican right-hander Felipe Paulino aims for a third straight victory for himself and a series win for the Kansas City Royals tonight when they host the Minnesota Twins to wrap up a three-game set at Kauffman Stadium.

The 28-year-old righty hasn't lost since May 11, when he was touched for seven hits and four runs in dropping a 5-0 decision to the White Sox in Chicago.

He's won twice in four starts since while allowing just three runs on 19 hits across 25 1/3 innings, including six scoreless innings of three-hit ball with five strikeouts in a 2-0 blanking of Oakland on June 1.

Paulino is 2-0 at home in three 2012 starts and hasn't allowed an earned run in 19 innings, giving up 12 hits, walking seven and striking out 20.

He's split two lifetime decisions against the Twins.

The Royals evened the series at a game apiece on Tuesday with a pitching gem from veteran lefty Bruce Chen (5-5), who allowed four hits and did not walk a batter in seven innings while striking out five in the Royals' fifth win in seven games.

Kansas City won the game, 1-0.

"I feel like I'm making much better pitches and keeping the ball down," Chen said. "My changeup has been very big for me and I make sure that I pound the strike zone."

Brayan Pena knocked in the game's lone run and Jonathan Broxton left the tying run on second base in the ninth inning to earn his 14th save of the year.

Francisco Liriano (1-6) gave up just one run on four hits and a walk while striking out eight over a six-inning start, but could not get any offensive support as Minnesota had its three-game win streak snapped.

"It is kind of frustrating. Our offense had been doing really well here lately the past two or three weeks," Twins shortstop Brian Dozier said.

Minnesota sends 30-year-old righty Nate Blackburn to the mound in search of a second straight win after he opened the season with four consecutive losses.

The Oklahoma native had a 0-4 record with a 6.84 earned run average before finally getting a W after a five-inning outing against Toronto on May 11 - a game the Twins won, 7-6.

He lasted just two innings of a subsequent start at Detroit five days later and has not pitched in the majors since after a stint on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right quad muscle.

A rehab start on June 3 at Triple-A Rochester saw him allow a run in 2 1/3 innings before it was cut short by rain.

Blackburn is 0-2 in three road starts this season and is 2-3 in 12 career meetings with the Royals.

These two clubs split a weather-shortened two-game series in Minnesota from April 27-29.