Verlander aims to extend dominance of Royals

Reigning American League Cy Young Award winner Justin Verlander can continue a career's worth of success against the Kansas City Royals Tuesday when the Detroit Tigers visit Kauffman Stadium to open a three- game series.

Verlander, who won the AL's top pitching honors after going 24-5 with a 2.40 earned run average in 251 innings last season, got to half that win total this season with a 7-2 defeat of the New York Yankees on Aug. 6 in Detroit.

He's picked up no-decisions in three straight starts since while allowing six runs on 17 hits in 22 innings.

The Tigers have won two of the three games.

Lifetime against the Royals, Verlander is a dominant 14-2 across 21 starts with 134 strikeouts in 141 innings, while permitting an opposition batting average of .214 and posting a 2.36 ERA.

Kansas City replies with right-hander Luis Mendoza, who hopes to add to a career-high win total in his third lifetime start against the Tigers.

The 28-year-old had topped out at three wins for a season - across 25 appearances with Texas in 2008 - heading into 2012, which has seen him start a career-high 18 times in 23 outings.

He picked up win No. 7 two starts ago against the Chicago White Sox after allowing two runs on four hits - with a walk and six strikeouts - across seven innings of a 4-2 triumph.

Mendoza has won three of five starts in August while lowering his ERA slightly from 4.47 to 4.26.

He's 1-1 with an 8.80 ERA against the Tigers in seven games, which include two starts. Detroit has compiled a .328 batting average against him in 15 1/3 innings.

On Monday in Boston, Daisuke Matsuzaka returned from the disabled list and picked up his first win of 2012, while Cody Ross drove in three runs as the Red Sox downed Kansas City, 5-1, in the finale of a four-game series.

Alex Gordon hit safely twice and drove in the lone run for the Royals, who have dropped four of five overall.

Luke Hochevar (7-12) went the distance in defeat, charged with eight hits and five runs - all but one earned - while fanning six and walking one.

On Sunday in Detroit, Prince Fielder and Delmon Young slammed back-to-back home runs to break a sixth-inning tie and lift the Tigers to a 5-2 victory, their fifth win in six games.

Max Scherzer (14-6) was the beneficiary, picking up his fourth straight win in the rubber match of the three-game series.

Scherzer gave up one run on four hits and a pair of walks with nine strikeouts in seven innings.

"I was locating the whole day," he said. "I only made a couple mistakes. I did a good job of executing pitches throughout the whole night."

"(Scherzer) executed," Angels catcher Chris Iannetta said. "He mixed up three pitches. Throwing the ball 97, there's a reason why he leads the league in strikeouts."

Over his last four starts, Scherzer has pitched to a 1.33 earned run average.

Detroit won seven of the first eight games between the teams in 2012, including a sweep of a three-game set at Comerica Park from July 6-8. Kansas City last won the season series in 2008.