Although their grip on the AL's top record continues to loosen, the Kansas City Royals can at least take some solace in ace Johnny Cueto's series-opening performance.
Now they're hoping Edinson Volquez can make progress of his own against the Detroit Tigers.
The right-hander will try to end his roller-coaster stretch Saturday night when Kansas City looks to string back-to-back quality starts for only the second time in three weeks.
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The Royals have maintained a sense of calm despite dropping 10 of the past 14 games. They may be breathing easier after Cueto allowed two runs over seven innings in Friday's 5-4, 12-inning loss at Comerica Park. He had a 9.57 ERA while losing his previous five starts.
Kansas City has had its lead in the race for home-field advantage throughout the playoffs cut to one game while its starters have recorded consecutive quality starts once since Aug. 28.
The Royals (86-61) hope Volquez (13-8, 3.59 ERA) can regain some consistency after alternating between good and bad over his last eight starts. He was on the rocky side Monday when he gave up four runs over five innings in an 8-3 loss at Cleveland.
"We hear some people getting kind of crazy," Volquez told MLB's official website. "We hear that. But we know what we can do. We're not worried."
After allowing two runs over six innings in a 2-1 loss to Detroit (68-78) on May 2, the team's wins leader has gone 0-1 with a 9.90 ERA in two meetings over the past five weeks. He's making his first start at Comerica Park since September 2007, when he was with Texas.
Anthony Gose is 4 for 7 with a home run and Ian Kinsler is 4 for 9 versus Volquez this season. Victor and J.D. Martinez, though, are combined 1 for 23 lifetime in the matchup.
Kinsler finished with four hits and Miguel Cabrera went 2 for 4 with two RBIs Friday. Dixon Machado delivered a walk-off single after Kansas City's Salvador Perez tied it with a two-out homer in the ninth inning and the Royals had taken a one-run lead in the 12th.
''We fought back and got a great win," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said.
Matt Boyd will try to help last-place Detroit win four straight for the first time since a 6-0 start. He's making his first start in 11 days after his last turn was skipped due to back-to-back rainouts.
The rookie left-hander, acquired from Toronto in the David Price trade, hasn't won in seven outings since beating Kansas City in his Detroit debut Aug. 5. He allowed one run and scattered seven hits over seven innings in that 2-1 home win.
After going 1-1 with a 2.92 ERA in his first two starts against the Royals this season, Boyd (1-5, 8.02) didn't get a decision despite yielding six runs and only recording three outs while opposing Volquez in a 15-7 loss at Kauffman Stadium on Sept. 3.
Lorenzo Cain, 3 for 8 with a home run off Boyd, could return after sitting the past two games with a possible ankle injury. Omar Infante left Friday's game with an oblique strain and Alcides Escobar might be sidelined after getting hit by a pitch in the 10th inning.