Royals try to get back on winning track in opener with Rays

Dominican right-hander Ervin Santana will try to make it three starts without a loss on Thursday night when the Kansas City Royals open a four-game series with the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field.

The 30-year-old, who joined the Royals in the offseason, opened the year with three wins in four decisions before losing four consecutive starts between May 12 and May 28.

He opened June with a no-decision after allowing an unearned run in seven innings against Texas, then defeated Houston, 7-2, with seven innings of two- run ball on June 8.

Santana is 5-6 with a 5.47 earned run average in 13 career meetings with the Rays, and has won once in five road starts this season.

The Royals are 4-6 in his last 10 starts and have won five of his 12 outings overall.

Tampa Bay starts 26-year-old righty Jeremy Hellickson, who's trying for a ninth straight start without a loss.

The former American League rookie of the year last lost on April 25 when he dropped a 5-2 verdict to the Chicago White Sox.

He's 3-0 in eight starts since, including six innings of scoreless four-hit ball on June 8, when he beat the Baltimore Orioles, 8-0.

Hellickson faced Kansas City on May 1 and allowed four runs in five innings of a 9-8 Royals win. He's 1-0 against them in four career meetings with a 2.66 earned run average.

On Wednesday in Kansas City, Eric Hosmer delivered the game-winning RBI single in the bottom of the 10th inning to cap an improbable 3-2 comeback victory by the Royals over the Detroit Tigers in the rubber match of a three-game set at Kauffman Stadium.

Facing Detroit reliever Phil Coke (0-4), Miguel Tejada led off the bottom of the 10th with a single and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt from Alcides Escobar. After Alex Gordon moved Tejada to third with a groundout to first, Hosmer took the left-hander's pitch up the middle for the difference-maker.

Kansas City, which had a season-high six-game winning streak come to end with a 3-2 loss to Detroit on Tuesday, looked to be in line for a second straight defeat after Tigers starter Justin Verlander tossed seven stellar frames of scoreless ball.

Lorenzo Cain erased the deficit with two outs and a runner on second in the inning, belting a two-run homer off Jose Valverde to send the game to extras.

Greg Holland (2-1) retired the side in order in the top of the 10th to secure the victory. Kansas City starter James Shields, who failed to earn a win in his eighth consecutive start, allowed both Detroit runs on seven hits over seven frames.

Brayan Pena and Prince Fielder drove in the only Detroit runs.

Tampa Bay, meanwhile, weren't as fortunate on Wednesday, as Alfredo Aceves turned in six strong innings in an emergency start to help the Boston Red Sox record a 2-1 decision over the Rays in the rubber match of a three-game series.

Tampa Bay managed just six hits on the night, with Evan Longoria's solo homer in the sixth inning providing the lone scoring in the Rays' seventh loss in nine meetings with their AL East rivals this season.

Chris Archer (1-2) struck out seven batters in four innings of work, but threw 103 pitches over that period and walked four in addition to serving up Nava's homer.

"I think I was trying to do a little too much," Archer said."I was falling behind 2-0 and they forced me to throw strikes and work the count."

The Royals won a pair from the Rays in the teams' only previous series in 2013, taking 8-2 and 9-8 decisions on April 30 and May 1 in Kansas City.