Angels-Royals preview

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Time is running out on the Kansas City Royals if they are going to make it back to the postseason.

After advancing to the World Series the past two years and winning it all in 2015, the Royals take a 48-49 record into a three-game series Monday night against the Los Angeles Angels to close out this nine-game homestand.

The Royals fell below .500 for the first time since May 15 after a 2-1 loss Sunday to the Texas Rangers. They have not won back-to-back games in July, a month where they have a putrid 6-13 record.

It is time for the Royals to get it going if they are to remain in playoff contention.

"We thought about that like three weeks ago," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "We can think it all we want. That doesn't help you. We've got to get it going."

The Royals are 9-36 when they score three or fewer runs.

"It's important to get all of our guys going again," Yost said. "When you struggle offensively, generally, when we do it we do it as a team. We've got to find ways to produce more offense."

The Royals will start right-hander Ian Kennedy in the series opener. He is 0-3 with a 6.35 ERA in four career starts against the Angels. He lost a 6-1 decision on April 25 at Anaheim, when the Royals were swept in a three-game series and scored only seven runs in the three games.

Albert Pujols is 4-for-10 with three home runs off Kennedy, while Mike Trout is 1-for-6.

Kennedy has had trouble the third time through the lineup. They are hitting .215, 67-for-312, the first two times. On the third time, hitters have a .293 batting average with nine home runs and two doubles.

The Angels will counter with right-hander Hector Santiago, who had his career-high 24 inning scoreless inning streak snapped in his previous start by the Rangers. He owns a 2.28 ERA in his past seven starts.

Eric Hosmer is 6-for-19 and Alcides Escobar is 5-for-16 off Santiago.

Shortstop Anrelton Simmons is batting .404 since June 23 and is the hottest Angels' bat.

The Angels lost 13-3 Sunday at Houston with Jose Altuve hitting two home runs and driving in five runs in the first two innings off Tim Lincecum, who was yanked after retiring only four batters and allowing eight runs.

"Pretty pathetic," Lincecum said after the poor performance. "I wasn't putting the ball where I needed to at all, from the first pitch. I have a lot of work to do. I'm confident in the process, that this is part of what I'm going through right now. If it takes going through this, then it takes going through this."

Lincecum won't start against the Royals and there is some uncertainty whether he will remain in the rotation with an 8.70 ERA and allowing nine home runs among his 54 hits, while walking 15 and allowing 31 runs, 29 earned, in 30 innings. His fastball is mostly 86-87 mile per hour.

"He has enough life on his fastball," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "But he has to get it into better zones than we've seen."