MLB

Royals head to Seattle sitting in second place in division

SEATTLE -- The Kansas City Royals and Seattle Mariners have faced similar circumstances this season.

Both teams started poorly and rebounded to sit near the .500 mark and remain in the American League wild-card race.

And both are looking to strengthen their position in the final week before the All-Star break. The teams open a three-game series Monday night at Safeco Field.

Right-hander Ian Kennedy (2-6, 4.72 ERA) is scheduled to start for the Royals, who defeated visiting Minnesota 6-2 on Sunday to move into a second-place tie with the Twins in the AL Central.

The Royals (41-40) took three of four games in the series and are a half-game behind the Tampa Bay Rays for the AL's second and final wild-card berth.

Seattle right-hander Andrew Moore (1-0, 3.86 ERA) is scheduled to be recalled from Triple-A Tacoma to make his second career start Monday.

The Mariners (41-42) are coming off a 5-3 road win over the Los Angeles Angels on Sunday that gave Seattle two victories in the three-game series.

Kennedy gave up two runs in seven innings of his last start, an 8-2 win at Detroit on Wednesday. It was the first time he had goneseven or more innings since April 22.

Kennedy has made three career starts against the Mariners, producing a 1-2 record and a 4.30 ERA.

He will be throwing Monday to All-Star catcher Salvador Perez. On Sunday, Perez was selected to his fifth consecutive All-Star Game, and he will start for the AL for the fourth year in a row.

"Every one is special," Perez told The Kansas City Star. "As soon as we start the season, this is something we play for. We're going to enjoy it, have fun and try to win the game."

Perez, who is batting .290 with 16 home runs and 50 RBIs, will be joined on the AL team by Royals left-hander Jason Vargas, who is tied with the Los Angeles Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw for the major league lead with 12 victories.

Moore, just one outing into his major league career, is far from an All-Star team, but he got off to an impressive start.

"We need another starter, and he did a very good job the last time he was here," Mariners manager Scott Servais said.

In his debut June 22 against the Tigers, Moore pitched seven innings, allowing three runs on six hits. He didn't walk a batter while striking out four in a 9-6 victory.

Seattle is in the midst of a stretch in which it plays 16 of 19 games at home heading into the All-Star break. The Mariners are 7-5 so far in that span.

The Mariners might be without their lone All-Star representative, designated hitter and cleanup hitter Nelson Cruz, who left the Saturday game with a knee injury sustained while sliding into second base.

Cruz, who is batting .287 with 14 home runs and 59 RBIs, sat out the Sunday game and was listed as day-to-day.

"I'm not sure how soon he'll be back," Servais said. "It's hard not having him in the lineup. We're a different team when he's not there."

Mariners second baseman Robinson Cano has hit six home runs in the past nine games, including a three-run shot Sunday.