Royals aim to stop slide at Wrigley

( - Mired in their worst losing streak of the season, the Kansas City Royals turn their attention to the Chicago Cubs on Friday afternoon for the opener of a three-game interleague series at Wrigley Field.

Kansas City has sat atop the American League Central Division standings for virtually all of May, thanks largely to a lineup that ranks fourth in the majors in runs scored. But the Royals have totaled just five runs during their season-worst, four-game slide.

"We're not swinging the bats," manager Ned Yost said. "We've cooled off a little bit. It's baseball. You can't stay red hot for 162 games. You cool down. You just wait to get hot again."

The Royals had the day off Thursday, a day after they left the Bronx with a 4-2 loss to the New York Yankees. It marked the first time this season Kansas City was swept in a series.

Chicago was also idle on Thursday. The Cubs have dropped three of their last four and are coming off a 3-0 shutout loss at home to the Washington Nationals. They struck out 14 times in that one to go with three errors in the field.

However, the pitching staff did manage to hold the NL's top run-scoring team to seven runs for the series. Jon Lester came out on the losing end of Wednesday's duel with Nats ace Max Scherzer despite 10 strikeouts and just one earned run allowed in seven innings.

"The takeaway is, we can play with these guys," manager Joe Maddon said. "I feel very confident about that moving forward."

Jake Arrieta will start Friday's series opener for Chicago. The right-hander owns a 2.95 ERA on the season and is aiming for a fourth consecutive quality start. He has notched at least seven strikeouts in each of his last four outings.

Edinson Volquez looks to right the ship for Kansas City. The right-hander has won his last two starts and is 7-0 with a 2.90 ERA across 11 starts against the Cubs. In his latest start, Volquez went six innings against St. Louis and allowed two earned runs on four hits.

This marks the Royals' first trip to Wrigley since 2001, and it is also the first time hitting coach Dale Sveum is back in town since he was fired as the Cubs manager following the 2013 season.