Mexican-born righty Luis Mendoza seeks a first win since mid-May tonight, when the Kansas City Royals visit Target Field for the first of four weekend games with the Minnesota Twins.
A 28-year-old who initially reached the majors in 2007 with Texas, Mendoza was 2-0 in a pair of starts with Kansas City last season and improved to 2-2 in 2012 with a 9-1 defeat of the Chicago White Sox in May 13 at U.S. Cellular Field.
He allowed a run on seven hits in the win, dropping his season earned run average from 5.56 to 4.76.
Seven appearances since have yielded five no-decisions and two losses, including an 8-2 defeat against St. Louis in his last start on June 23, which lasted 4 1/3 innings and saw him surrender seven hits and four runs.
Mendoza gave up five hits and two runs in five innings of a 4-2 home loss to the Twins on June 6, his lone career meeting with Minnesota.
He's opposed by lefty Brian Duensing, a Kansas native and University of Nebraska product who's 6-2 in 17 career meetings with his home-state team.
Duensing, who'd made 50 starts in 109 big-league appearances prior to this season, opened 2012 in the bullpen and made 30 straight relief appearances before a three-inning outing in a June 23 start at Cincinnati, which resulted in a 6-0 loss.
He allowed four runs on four hits in that game and will again be on a pitch- count limit while stretching things out against the Royals.
In the 30 bullpen outings, he had a 3.12 ERA while allowing 28 hits and 12 runs in 34 2/3 innings.
On Wednesday in Kansas City, Billy Butler's solo homer in the bottom of the eighth inning lifted the Royals over the Tampa Bay Rays, 5-4, in the finale of a three-game series.
Alcides Escobar and Mike Moustakas also homered for the Royals, who swept the Rays for the first time since May 15-17, 2001. Yuniesky Betancourt knocked in two runs.
"We're just going to continue to move forward," Butler said. "We really want to get to .500 before the All-Star break. That's what we're trying to do."
Kansas City starter Everett Teaford gave up two runs on four hits over five- plus innings. Aaron Crow (1-1) recorded the final two outs in the eighth to pick up the win.
In Minnesota, Adam Dunn smoked a three-run home run and added an RBI single on Wednesday as the Chicago White Sox pounded out 21 hits en route to a 12-5 thrashing of the Twins in the rubber match of a three-game series.
Darin Mastroianni ripped a two-run homer and Brian Dozier added a solo blast for the Twins, who dropped the final two games of the series.
Nick Blackburn (4-5) suffered the loss after giving up six runs on nine hits with three strikeouts and no walks in five full frames.
Minnesota has won three of five games with the Royals in 2012 and hasn't lost a season series to Kansas City since 2003.