Menu

BASEBALL

Royals eye fifth straight home win over Rays

The Kansas City Royals take aim at their fifth straight home victory over the Tampa Bay Rays as the clubs resume a three-game series on Wednesday evening.

The Royals swept a three-game home series versus the Rays last June by a 21-6 margin and then took Tuesday's opener by a convincing 8-2 score. The runs came late for Kansas City, which saw Mike Moustakas hit a two-run homer during a four-run sixth inning and start a three-run seventh inning with a sacrifice fly.

Lorenzo Cain, Salvador Perez and Jeff Francoeur each had two hits and knocked in a run for the Royals, who snapped a two-game losing skid and have won four of six overall. They have won six of their last seven at home versus the Rays, who fell to 2-3 on a 10-game road trip.

Facing his former club for the first time since a December trade to the Royals, James Shield gave up a two-run homer to Matt Joyce in the first inning before settling down. He retired the final 13 batters faced to cap a solid seven-inning victory.

"It was a lot of fun facing that team. There's a lot of good memories over there," Shields said.

Kansas City was held off the board through the first 5 2/3 innings by Tampa Bay starter Alex Cobb and had been held to just four singles before coming through with six straight two-out hits to chase the right-hander in the sixth inning.

Jeremy Hellickson hopes for better luck tonight as he takes the hill for the Rays.

The right-hander threw seven scoreless innings to beat the Oakland Athletics on April 20, but was touched for a season high-tying five runs over six innings in a loss to the Chicago White Sox on Thursday. He yielded five hits and four walks and struck out eight in the 5-2 decision, giving up three of his runs in the first inning.

"It's kind of frustrating to fall behind early, but I feel good. I just have to make better pitches," said Hellickson, who is 1-2 with a 4.31 earned run average through five starts this season.

The 26-year-old is 1-0 with a 1.17 ERA in three career meetings with the Royals, including two starts. He has held them to a pair of runs and struck out 13 over 15 1/3 innings.

Luis Mendoza makes his first start for the Royals in almost three weeks, having had rain outs and off days wreck havoc on his schedule.

The right-hander's last start came on April 12, a loss to the Toronto Blue Jays in which he yielded seven earned runs over 5 2/3 innings. He did get into a game on Wednesday in relief versus the Detroit Tigers and did not allow a run over 2 1/3 frames despite giving up a hit and three walks.

Mendoza, 29, is 0-1 with a 5.14 ERA on the season and has faced the Rays just once before. That was a loss on Aug. 22 of last season despite giving up two runs over 4 1/3 innings. Tampa Bay did touch him for five hits and drew four walks.