Royals-Athletics Preview

A surge of strong play away from home has vaulted the Kansas City Royals to the top of the American League.

They will look to complete their third road sweep this month Sunday against the last-place Oakland Athletics.

Kansas City (43-28) continued its outstanding play away from home with Saturday's 3-2 victory, its ninth in the last 12 road games. It was also the Royals' 43rd win overall, tying them for the league lead with a Houston team that has played six more games.

Kendrys Morales knocked in two runs to support Chris Young's six strong innings, while Kansas City's bullpen lowered its ERA to 1.17 over the last five games.

The win pushed the Royals 15 games over .500 for the first time before the All-Star break since they were 47-32 on July 5, 1980.

''I was sitting there thinking about that in the ninth inning, this would be a chance to get our high-water mark to 15 over,'' manager Ned Yost said. ''If I would say I'm not excited about being 15 over, I'd be lying. It's great, but we want to continue to keep going, keep going, keep going.''

Now Yost's team will try to record is first sweep in Oakland since 2008 behind Jeremy Guthrie (5-5, 5.90 ERA), who accounted for one of Kansas City's rare recent road losses. He matched a season high with six runs allowed and nine hits over five innings of a 7-0 defeat in Seattle on Tuesday.

Opponents are hitting .308 against the right-hander this season with an .854 OPS, both of which rank among the worst in the majors.

Guthrie, who is two strikeouts shy of 1,000, is 0-1 with a 6.75 ERA in his last two starts against Oakland (34-43). He surrendered three home runs - two to Steven Vogt - over six-plus innings before leaving without a decision in a 6-4 win over the A's on April 17.

Vogt is 5 for 8 lifetime in this matchup.

The A's enjoyed a hot stretch of their own prior to dropping the last two, winning five straight and nine of 11. Vogt paced the offense over that stretch with a .447 average and 13 RBIs, while Brett Lawrie and Ben Zobrist combined to drive in 21.

Those three have combined to go 2 for 20 this series, and the A's have only four hits in each game, tied for their second-lowest total of the year.

"We've been playing great baseball the past couple weeks," said Scott Kazmir. "To fall two straight like this to a team like that is tough."

Sam Fuld has been one of the team's few bright spots with two doubles during the series and a stolen base Saturday that led to Oakland's first run of the game.

"We're not panicking as a group offensively," Fuld said. "We realize against a staff like this it's tough getting runs."

Jesse Chavez (4-6, 2.90) will go for Oakland hoping to rebound following his worst start of the year. The right-hander allowed five runs and eight hits over five innings Tuesday at Texas but was credited with an 8-6 victory.

He is 2-1 with a 4.88 ERA in his last four starts after going 2-5 with a 2.38 ERA in his first eight.

Chavez has pitched 10 2-3 scoreless innings over five relief appearances against the Royals.

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