Royals try to salvage finale with O's

The Kansas City Royals try to move beyond a rough outing as they close out a three-game set with the Baltimore Orioles at Camden Yards on Thursday night.

On Wednesday Kansas City fell behind early and was never able to fully recover as the squad suffered a 5-3 setback in Baltimore. Royals starter Luis Mendoza was saddled with his second loss of the season as he permitted five runs -- two earned -- on five hits and three walks. Mendoza, who is now carrying a 6.38 ERA, struck out only two through six innings of work.

It also didn't help that Kansas City committed three errors in the contest, playing a crucial part in the three-run fifth for the hosts.

From an offensive standpoint, Mike Moustakas finished with three hits, knocking in a pair, as he logged his second home run of the campaign. Also going deep for the visitors was Alex Gordon, his fifth of the year.

J.J. Hardy plated a pair in the bottom of the second inning for the O's, hitting his sixth home run of the season. Manny Machado was credited with the other RBI for a Baltimore squad which has won four straight and five of the last six in order to move into a first-place tie with the Boston Red Sox atop the American League East standings.

Chris Tillman picked up his third win of the season, making it through six innings, allowing three runs on five hits and three walks, striking out a pair. Jim Johnson registered his 13th save of the year as he worked a scoreless ninth.

"I feel like we really haven't lost a step from where we finished (in 2012) or how we finished last year," said Johnson, who notched his 34th save in a row to match Randy Myers (1997) for the club record. "But I think ... guys are really starting to get a good feel for what's going on and what's expected of them. All 25 are going in the same direction."

Heading to the hill for Orioles tonight, making just his second appearance of the season, is Freddy Garcia. The right-hander, who has a career mark of 10-13 with a 5.69 ERA in 30 all-time appearances versus KC, had a strong debut for Baltimore on Saturday as he allowed just two runs on three hits and a walk, striking out two in 6 2/3 innings of work versus the Angels on the road. While the O's eventually secured a 5-4 win in that outing, Garcia failed to earn a decision.

A former Baltimore hurler himself, Jeremy Guthrie takes the ball for a Royals squad which is now second in the AL Central, 1 1/2 games behind Detroit.

Guthrie, who had his most productive years in the majors with the Orioles between 2007-2011, posting 47 of his 59 career victories during that stretch, is currently enjoying a very strong start to the 2013 campaign with four wins in as many decisions. In fact, the Royals have won five of his six starts thus far, a trend that the team hopes to continue as they try to snap a season-long three-game slide.

In action last Saturday, the right-hander pitched a shutout for Kansas City against the Chicago White Sox, allowing just four hits and striking out three, while walking one. In posting his first career shutout, Guthrie also broke a Kansas City record in the process, stringing together 17 straight starts without earning a loss going back to last season, breaking the franchise mark of 16 in a row set by Paul Splittorff in 1977-78.

"It's something I've never been able to accomplish," said Guthrie of his first career shutout. "I had a few opportunities. Going out there in the ninth inning and hearing that little roar from the crowd was really cool to back me up. We played great defense early that made it all possible."

Baltimore won the season series versus the Royals in both 2011 and 2012 by a 5-4 margin.