Royals look to end epic scoreless streak and five-game skid

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Over the years, Kauffman Stadium has been a horror house for the Tampa Bay Rays. But the spooked team of late is the one thatbatted last at The K on Monday night.

When Kansas City outfielder Melky Cabrera grounded out meekly to wrap up a 12-0 loss tothe Rays, it marked the fourth straight game in which the Royals failed to score a run. They have gone 43 consecutive innings without scoring, tying the American League record for futility and placing them five games shy of the major league mark (1968 Chicago Cubs).

The Royals have now lost their last four games by scores (in reverse chronological order) of 12-0, 12-0, 4-0 and 4-0.

"You come back in the next day and do the best you can," Royals designated hitter Brandon Moss said before the latest loss. "We're in a position to have a shot to make the postseason. We may not be in the position we wanted. It may not be in the position that we thought we had a position to be in, but regardless, we're in the thick of something here."

Monday's loss left the Royals (64-66) 10 games behind the AL Central-leading Indians and three games behind Minnesota, which currently holds the league's second wild-card spot.

The Rays, meanwhile,moved a half-game in front of Kansas City.Before the Monday beat-down, Tampa Bay had lost eight games in a row and 15 of its past 16 at Kansas City. In the eight straight defeats, the Royals scored at least six runs in each. The Rays had a 7.86 ERA since 2012 at Kauffman Stadium.

"I think ultimately, we have talked about that, but we've got to find a way to move past it and find a way to win some games here," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "It doesn't matter where we're at.

"I like the way we played in St. Louis. That's not an easy place to go in and play. They've got a good team, great fans, great atmosphere, and we played well to win a series. So, kind of duplicate that and take it into here in Kansas City."

Tampa Bay will start right-hander Alex Cobb (9-8, 3.69 ERA) in the second game of the three-game series. Cobb was 4-5 with a 4.59 ERA in his first 12 starts this year. In his past dozen starts, he is 5-3 with a 2.90 ERA that ranks fifth in the AL during that span.

He has allowed three earned runs or fewer in 10 of his past 12 starts and two earned runs or fewer in nine of the 12 outings.

Cobb is 1-2 with a 4.55 ERA in five career starts against the Royals. He last faced them July 9, 2014. He missed two months in 2013 after an Eric Hosmer line drive struck him near his right ear on June 15. He sustained a concussion and was carted off the field on a stretcher.

Hosmer is 5-for-14 (.357) with two homers and four RBIs off Cobb. Salvador Perez is 5-for-12 (.417) vs. the righty, and Mike Moustakas is 4-for-12 with a home run.

The Royals will counter with rookie right-hander Jake Junis, who picked up his first big-league win at Tampa Bay on May 9 with a scoreless 11th inning in relief.

Junis (5-2, 4.68 ERA) is 2-0 with a 1.86 ERA in his past three starts. He is 3-2 with a 4.47 ERA in nine starts overall.