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Rays-Royals Preview

It was only two weeks ago that the Kansas City Royals were two games under .500 and looking nothing like the club that won last year's World Series.

Now they're making those who doubted them eat their words.

Kansas City has won a season-high five straight and will look to continue rolling against Chris Archer and the slumping Tampa Bay Rays on Wednesday night at Kauffman Stadium.

The Royals (29-22) struggled from late April through the first couple weeks of May and couldn't make up any ground on the then-surging Chicago White Sox in the AL Central. They've won 12 of their last 15, though - including five of six against the White Sox in that stretch - to take over first place in the division.

Kansas City is averaging 7.25 runs over its last eight after Tuesday's 10-5 win over the Rays (22-28). Eric Hosmer went 3 for 5 and is batting .538 with two homers and 14 RBIs during a six-game hitting streak.

Lorenzo Cain and Kendrys Morales each hit a two-run homer as the Royals improved to 14-1 at home against Tampa Bay since the start of the 2012 season.

They suffered a blow in the fifth inning, though, as rookie outfielder Brett Eibner was carted off the field after spraining his left ankle chasing Brad Miller's triple. Eibner was 1 for 2 before being replaced by Jarrod Dyson and is batting .462 while hitting safely in all four games he has played since making his major league debut Friday.

It might not be a bad thing if Dyson is in the lineup to face Archer, though. Dyson and Cain went deep off Archer (3-6, 4.62 ERA) on July 8 as he tied career highs with nine runs and 12 hits allowed while going six innings of a 9-7 loss.

They're not the only Royals who have hit Archer hard. Alcides Escobar is 7 for 9 and Morales is 7 for 11 with a homer and three doubles against the Rays' ace, who is still struggling to find some consistency.

Archer pitched five scoreless innings against the New York Yankees on Friday before the Rays came apart in the sixth. They committed three errors - including one on a pickoff attempt by Archer - and gave up three unearned runs in a 4-1 loss.

The right-hander allowed just four hits while going a season-high eight innings, though. He entered that start with a 10.80 first-inning ERA but got out of it unscathed.

"I'm going pitch by pitch," Archer said. "I'm not thinking about what happens in the past. I'm not thinking about a few pitches ahead."

Hopefully that means Archer has forgotten about his last outing against Kansas City, which counters with Danny Duffy.

Duffy (0-0, 3.23) will be making a fourth straight start after 16 appearances out of the bullpen, and his longest outing of the season began well but finished poorly Friday. He retired the first 16 batters he faced on 59 pitches before giving up five runs on his next 17, lasting 5 1/3 innings and getting a no-decision in the Royals' 7-5 win over the Chicago White Sox.

The left-hander didn't give up a run while allowing five hits in 7 1/3 innings over his previous two starts.

''That's probably the best (and) worst game I've ever had,'' Duffy said.

Duffy went more than four years between starts against the Rays before giving up two runs and seven hits in five innings of Kansas City's 3-2 loss Aug. 30.

Brandon Guyer is 3 for 3 with a homer off Duffy, but he went 0 for 5 on Tuesday as the Rays lost for the ninth time in 11 tries. Guyer is 2 for 17 over his last four.

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