Righty Jeremy Guthrie tries to get back on the winning side of the ledger on Monday night when the Kansas City Royals visit Minute Maid Park to open a three-game series with the Houston Astros.
A former first-round pick of the Cleveland Indians in 2002, Guthrie opened 2013 with five victories and no losses in his initial seven starts while posting a 2.28 earned run average in 47 1/3 innings. That gave him a string of 10 straight victories dating back to last season as well as a club-record 18- game unbeaten streak.
Those streaks came to an end in his most recent start, however, when the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim beat him, 6-2, while touching him for 11 hits and five runs in seven innings.
Prior to that start, Guthrie had allowed just 42 hits and 13 runs.
He's 2-0 in three career starts against the Astros and won his lone start in Houston after allowing three runs on four hits in seven innings.
For Houston, lefty Dallas Keuchel starts for the third time after opening his season with six relief outings.
The 25-year-old had a 4.96 ERA and a loss as a reliever between April 6-May 7, then returned to the starting rotation - where he'd made 16 starts as a rookie in 2012.
Keuchel pitched six innings and allowed two runs against Texas in his starting debut on May 10, then got another no-decision following a 5 2/3-inning, seven- hit effort at Detroit five days later.
The Astros are 3-5 in the eight games he's pitched.
He has never faced the Royals.
On Sunday in Oakland, Yoenis Cespedes hit a go-ahead home run in the eighth inning and the Athletics swept a three-game series against the Royals with a 4-3 win.
Leading off the eighth, Cespedes knocked a 1-0 pitch off Kelvin Herrera (2-4) deep into left center.
Alex Gordon, Eric Hosmer and Chris Getz each drove in one run for the Royals, who have lost seven of their last nine games. Starter Luis Mendoza gave up three runs -- two earned -- on eight hits in six-plus innings.
"It's just too bad," said Getz. "We got to bounce back, get through this and continue on."
In Pittsburgh, Jeff Locke fired seven shutout innings to outduel Lucas Harrell, while Pedro Alvarez's solo homer provided the only scoring in the Pirates' 1-0 victory over the Astros at PNC Park.
Harrell (3-5) held Pittsburgh to four hits and a walk while recording 13 outs on the ground over seven innings, but was dealt a hard-luck defeat when Alvarez connected on his eighth homer of the season in the bottom of the fifth.
"It was vintage Luke Harrell," said Astros manager Bo Porter. "It was ground ball after ground ball, it was efficient (with his) pitch count. "We just didn't score any runs."
The Royals have won two of three from the Astros in each of the last four series between the teams, dating back to 2006. Houston last won the season series in 2005.