Royals-Red Sox Preview

Despite owning the AL's best record over the past two seasons, the Kansas City Royals have had trouble against the team with the worst.

The Royals are looking to salvage a split of this four-game series with the last-place Boston Red Sox on Sunday.

Kansas City (74-68), which won the AL pennant last season, has gone 163-121 since the start of 2014. However, the Royals have posted a 3-10 mark against a Boston club which has a 127-157 record in the same span.

The Royals ended a five-game slide at Fenway Park on Saturday with a 6-3 win, doubling their scoring output and getting two more hits (12) than in the first two games combined.

With a commanding 12 1/2-game lead on Minnesota in the AL Central, the Royals are contemplating benching Alex Rios and Omar Infante. The duo is desperately in need of improvement offensively with Alex Gordon (groin) nearing a return from the disabled list.

Rios is hitting .242 but had a season high-tying three hits Saturday, giving him a .381 average in six season meetings against the Red Sox. Infante, meanwhile, is trying to build on his single Saturday that snapped an 0-for-31 slump.

"We need some (production from them)," manager Ned Yost told MLB's official website. "We need to get (Infante) and Rios going a little bit. Both are having years that they are not accustomed to."

That's not the case for Edinson Volquez (11-7, 3.20 ERA), who leads the Royals in wins. However, he's won only one of three decisions with a 3.12 ERA over his last four starts. The right-hander didn't get any help nor a decision Tuesday despite allowing one run with seven strikeouts in six innings of a 3-1 win at Cincinnati.

Volquez is 1-0 with a 3.44 ERA in three career starts against the Red Sox after yielding four runs and eight hits in 5 1-3 innings of a 7-4 win June 20.

The Red Sox (56-67), occupying the AL East basement, had a four-game winning streak snapped by Kansas City.

Mookie Betts has a .467 average with three homers, seven RBIs and 14 runs in 10 career meetings with the Royals. His solo shot Saturday also extended his overall hitting streak to eight games, a stretch in which he's batting .359 with eight RBIs.

He's 2 for 2 with a homer off Volquez, while Xander Bogaerts is seeing him for the first time.

Bogaerts is hitting .353 with six RBIs in the past seven games and has collected five hits in this series. The shortstop is a .348 hitter with 10 RBIs in 11 career games against Kansas City.

Boston turns to Eduardo Rodriguez (7-5, 4.48), who has allowed three runs or fewer in four of his last five starts. However, he has a 4.22 ERA in that stretch since he was hammered for eight runs in five innings of a 14-6 loss at Miami on Aug. 12.

The 22-year-old rookie left-hander followed that up six days later by yielding one run in eight innings of a 9-1 win over Cleveland - his longest outing of the season.

Rodriguez earned a 7-3 win at Kansas City on June 19, allowing one run in 6 1-3 innings. He held Lorenzo Cain, Mike Moustakas and Salvador Perez hitless in nine combined at-bats. Rios and Infante have a hit apiece against him.