Luke Hochevar tries to pitch the Kansas City Royals to a three-game sweep of the Oakland Athletics on Thursday at Kauffman Stadium.
But, if the Royals are to break out the brooms they will need Hochevar to better against the A's than he has been in his career. The former first overall pick is 0-7 lifetime versus Oakland with a 6.96 ERA in eight starts.
Hochevar lost to Baltimore on Friday, surrendering seven runs and seven hits - three home runs - in 5 1/3 innings of work to drop him to 7-10 on the year to go along with a 5.32 ERA.
"Hitters usually don't miss mistakes at this level," Hochevar said after his last start. "Three unexecuted pitches and that's what cost me. That's all on me. I've got to execute better in big situations."
Kansas City continued to stymie the playoff hopeful A's on Wednesday, as it rallied for two runs in the seventh inning to win, 3-2, sending Brandon McCarthy to his first loss since April 21.
Will Smith (4-4) outdueled McCarthy, holding the A's to a pair of runs on five hits in seven innings to pick up his second straight win.
Chris Getz knocked in the winning run with his two-out double for the Royals, who will be eyeing their first sweep of the A's since turning the trick from July 28-30, 2008.
"It's a bad loss for us across the board," McCarthy said. "These are games we expected to win and we've been winning. To give that up late like that, we need to be better than this. I'm not happy with myself. There were a lot of things we've done bad and need to be better."
McCarthy (6-4) had won his previous six decisions, spanning eight starts, but the right-hander took the loss after giving up three runs -- two earned -- and seven hits in 6 2/3 innings.
"He was really tough tonight," Royals outfielder Lorenzo Cain said. "He was sinking and cutting from us away all night. I'd say he was very, very dominant tonight."
Josh Donaldson hit his second home run for Oakland, which has lost four of its last five games and is now 1 1/2-games back in the wild card race.
Getting the call for the A's tonight will be young right-hander Daniel Straily, who has yet to win in his first two major league starts. After giving up a run in six innings in his debut, the 23-year-old was hit hard his last time out on Aug. 8 against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, as he allowed five runs in 4 2/3 innings.
"I don't think he's that comfortable yet," Oakland manager Bob Melvin said. "He certainly has the stuff to be successful. It's just being comfortable and getting in a rhythm and not thinking about a lot of the outside distractions that come with getting to the big leagues for the first time."
The Royals have taken five of the eight meetings between these two teams this season.