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Royals shoot for sweep, another home win versus Rays

The Kansas City Royals attempt to beat the Tampa Bay Rays for the sixth straight time at home on Thursday when they try to complete a three-game sweep of them at Kauffman Stadium.

Kansas City had to rally on Wednesday, as Lorenzo Cain knocked in a pair of runs and provided the go-ahead RBI single in a five-run sixth inning to help the Royals to a 9-8 win. Jeff Francoeur capped the big inning with a two-run single and Alex Gordon, Billy Butler and Mike Moustakas each plated a run for Kansas City, which has won five of seven.

Elliot Johnson added a solo homer and Bruce Chen (2-0) picked up the win with two shutout innings of relief. Greg Holland notched his seventh save with a perfect ninth inning.

Tampa Bay couldn't hold onto an early five-run lead, receiving a shaky effort out of starter Jeremy Hellickson before Jake McGee (0-2) was tagged for all five runs during Kansas City's big sixth inning.

Luke Scott went 3-for-3 with a solo homer, two RBI and two runs scored, Matt Joyce homered for the second straight day, James Loney drove in a pair and Evan Longoria fell a home run short of the cycle, going 3-for-5 with two runs scored.

"We pitched well in the first week or two, we didn't hit. Now we're hitting well and we can't seem to hold the lead," said Joyce.

Tampa, which has now lost four of six, has homered in the last 16 games.

"We're trying to learn and get better at driving in runs," Joyce said. "But overall, I mean, everybody knows we've been hitting a lot of home runs. It just hasn't equaled success."

Hoping to add to that on Thursday will be righty Ervin Santana, who has won his last three decisions. Santana won his second straight start in impressive fashion on Saturday, as he held the Cleveland Indians to six hits over seven scoreless innings to run his record to 3-1, while lowering his ERA to 2.00.

"I saw a lot of great stuff," Royals manager Ned Yost said after Santana struck out five over seven scoreless innings on Saturday. "But, for me, the key was his slider -- he had a lot of bite to it. Throwing good two-seamers, keeping the ball down in the zone. He just pitched a fantastic game."

Santana, who has struck out 12 over his last two starts without walking a batter, has faced the Rays 13 times and is 5-6 against them with a 5.47 ERA.

Tampa, meanwhile, will counter with righty Roberto Hernandez, who is 1-4 with a 5.28 ERA. Hernandez suffered another defeat on Friday in Chicago, as he allowed five runs and eight hits in six innings.

Hernandez is 6-5 lifetime versus the Royals with a 4.80 ERA in 18 games (16 starts).

Kansas City, which has won nine of 12 at home against Tampa, was 4-2 against the Rays last season.