The San Francisco Giants are going in one direction and the Kansas City Royals in another.
James Shields threw a four-hitter and Alex Gordon homered as the Royals won their sixth straight, beating the Giants 5-0 on Saturday night.
The Royals have won nine of 10 to move with 1 1-2 games of AL Central-leading Detroit. The Royals, who have not made the playoffs since beating St. Louis in the 1985 World Series, are in second place in the AL wild card standings.
On the flip side, the Giants have lost 34 of their past 54 games, a .370 winning percentage, the third-worst in the majors in that span. On June 9, the Giants were a major league-best 42-21 with a 9½-game lead in the NL West.
They trail the first-place Los Angeles Dodgers by 3½ games after the Saturday loss They are in a virtual tie with Pittsburgh and St. Louis for the top spot in the NL wild card standings.
"We're in a position to make a run and if you're in the playoffs anything can happen," Giants catcher Buster Posey said. "We know we can win games against good teams. If we get hot down the stretch anything can happen."
Is it too early to be thinking about the Dodgers, Pirates and Cardinals?
"We have a little under 50 games left and we're focusing on trying to play solid baseball, so ask me that a little later," Posey said.
Shields (11-6) gave up three singles in the first four innings. He allowed only two Giants to reach second base. He walked Joe Panik in the fifth and he moved to second on a wild pitch with two outs, but was stranded. Panik doubled in the eighth.
It was Shields' ninth career shutout, his first since Sept. 9, 2012.
Tim Hudson (8-9) gave up a home run to Gordon to lead off the fifth inning on Nebraska Night at Kauffman Stadium. Gordon is a Lincoln, Nebraska native and was the college player of the year in 2005 as a junior with the Cornhuskers.
The Giants have lost seven of their past eight games against AL clubs.
"We have to keep pushing and stay positive," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "They're playing very well. When you play good teams you have to play your best ball. Last night we let it get away. Tonight we just ran into a well-pitched game."
Hudson yielded three straight hits to start the four-run seventh and was replaced by Jeremy Affeldt. The inning included Mike Moustakas' run-producing double while Lorenzo Cain, Alcides Escobar and Jarrod Dyson had RBI-singles.
Hudson was charged with three runs and six hits in six-plus innings. Affeldt, who had held the opposition scoreless in his previous 13 outings, faced four batters and gave up two runs and three hits.
Giants: Catcher Hector Sanchez, who went on the concussion list July 26, suffered a setback Friday when he left a rehab game with Triple-A Fresno after taking a hard shot off the mask. "He'll have to get some tests," Bochy said. "There's some concern there." Bochy said it might be necessary for Sanchez to change masks, abandoning the hockey mask.
Royals: First baseman Eric Hosmer remains sidelined with a broken right hand.
Giants: Tim Lincecum has faced the Royals only once in his career: in 2008 when he allowed five runs in five innings in a no-decision that the Giants lost 11-10.
Royals: Danny Duffy is holding left-handed hitters to a .146 average this season and opponents to a .189 average at Kauffman Stadium.
The Giants were shut out for the 13th time. They are 4-32 when scoring two runs or less.
BACK IN KANSAS CITY
Affeldt made his first appearance at Kauffman Stadium since the Royals traded him to the Rockies in 2006. The Royals drafted Affeldt in the third round in 1997 and he went 17-22 with a 4.77 ERA in 184 games, including 42 starts, with them.