Red-hot Royals shoot for series win over Twins

Pitching has been a major catalyst during a season-high seven-game winning streak for the Kansas City Royals, who target a series victory over the Minnesota Twins Wednesday at Target Field.

Royals starters have gone 5-0 since the streak began last week and the staff has allowed nine earned runs in that time. Kansas City's bullpen is 2-0 with three saves during the winning streak, which continued with Tuesday's 7-2 victory over the Twins.

Ervin Santana struck out eight batters and walked one through seven innings of two-run ball, while Tim Collins and Luke Hochevar tossed a scoreless innings of relief apiece.

Mike Moustakas had two home runs and four RBI for the Royals, who are above .500 (52-51) this late in the season for the first time since 2003.

"But we still have 59 games to go," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "Good for us ... but the focus is day-to-day. We need to keep it going. The important thing is to keep winning."

The Royals are five games out of one of the two wild card spots in the American League and 4-0 on a nine-game road trip.

K.C. has won four of Jeremy Guthrie's last five starts and will send the right-hander to the mound Wednesday. Guthrie is 3-1 over that stretch and won his second straight outing Thursday in a 7-1 win over Baltimore.

Guthrie limited the Orioles to a run in six innings with five strikeouts and one walk. He is now 10-7 in 21 starts with a 4.27 earned run average. Guthrie lost to the Twins back on June 27 and is 6-3 with a 3.31 ERA in 12 career games (10 starts) against them.

Minnesota was 8-4 in its last 12 games before falling victim to the surging Royals. Mike Pelfrey started on the mound for the Twins and his record dropped to 4-9 after he allowed four runs and eight hits in four innings. Brian Duensing gave up three runs in relief.

Joe Mauer returned from the restricted list after his wife gave birth to twin girls and finished 2-for-4 with an RBI for the Twins. Ryan Doumit drove in the other run for Minnesota, which struggled to solve Santana and had five hits.

"He (Santana) made it tough for us," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "But you have to look at the pace of the game and late, I thought we were going to get back into this one, but Santana didn't let us."

Twins infielder Brian Dozier did not play Tuesday and has hit safely in seven straight games.

The Twins are playing 27 games in 27 days with their lone day off Aug. 8.

Kevin Correia draws the start for Minnesota Wednesday and is 1-3 in his last four decisions. He was roughed up the last time out, an 8-2 loss at Seattle in which he allowed six runs and seven hits in 1 2/3 innings.

Correia, who dropped to 7-7 in 20 starts this season with a 4.56 ERA, is winless in his career against the Royals. The right-hander has made three career starts against K.C., going 0-2 with a 5.71 ERA, and gave up five runs in five innings in a matchup on June 30.

Minnesota is just 3-8 against the AL Central-rival Royals this season.