Tigers' Porcello takes mound in Kansas City

( - Detroit right-hander Rick Porcello takes aim at his fourth win of the season on Friday when the Tigers open a three-game series with the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium.

Notoriously a slow starter, Porcello put forth the best April of his career, going 3-1 with a 3.96 ERA. He won his second straight start to close the month last Friday in Minnesota, but wasn't particularly sharp, as he allowed four runs and six hits in five innings.

"I just couldn't find a rhythm. I was a little out of sorts there (in the sixth) and I just couldn't rebound from it," Porcello said. "I actually felt like I was battling myself the whole game. I really struggled getting ahead of guys throwing first-pitch fastballs for strikes."

While April has always given him a problem, May has been kind to the former first round pick. Porcello is 13-6 with a 3.16 ERA in 25 May starts.

Porcello has also had success versus the Royals, posting a 6-3 mark with a 4.55 ERA in 15 starts.

The weather hasn't been kind to Detroit, which thanks to postponements, has played four fewer games than the Royals. Following an off-day on Thursday, the Tigers now begin a stretch of playing 13 straight games.

"I think this off-day really should kind of do it for us," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. "We have fewer off-days on the horizon, and hopefully the weather will take for a turn for the better now as we move into May. April showers should be gone. May flowers should be blooming."

Still, the Tigers hold a two-game edge on the Royals atop the American League Central.

Kansas City had a three-game winning streak stopped on Thursday, as it failed to sweep the Toronto Blue Jays, falling 7-3 in the finale.

Billy Butler went 2-for-4 with two RBI for the Royals, while Jeremy Guthrie (2-2) was touched for four runs on eight hits over six innings to absorb his second loss in as many decisions.

"I'm seeing the ball good now," Butler said. "I knew it was going to come."

Now Kansas City turns to veteran righty James Shields, who has won his last three starts. Shields beat the Baltimore Orioles on Monday, holding them to a pair of runs in seven innings, as he improved to 3-2 to go along with a 2.03 ERA.

Shields has faced the Tigers 15 times and is 6-3 with a 4.13 ERA. However, he has only beaten them one time in six tries since joining the Royals last season.

Detroit swept the Royals in a weather-abbreviated two-game series to start the season and has won three straight in the matchup. The Tigers did lose six of nine at Kauffman Stadium last season.