The Oakland Athletics handed Kansas City its first home defeat, subduing the Royals' scorching offense.
Tempers might not be as easily suppressed in Sunday's finale, though, after the contentious events of the series' first two games.
Josh Reddick powered a five-run fourth with a three-run shot in Oakland's 5-0 win Saturday. Royals hurler Yordano Ventura plunked Brett Lawrie in the ensuing at-bat, spurring an ejection for Ventura and the emptying of benches, though no punches were thrown.
Ventura was apparently retaliating for Lawrie's hard slide into Alcides Escobar at second base Friday, which left Escobar with a sprained left knee. He was held out Saturday as a precaution.
"We knew it was coming," Reddick said of the bean ball. "It's bush league. There's no need for it."
Whether any bad blood spills over once more remains to be seen. The Royals (8-3) will try to bounce back after totaling a season-low seven hits in what was already the fifth shutout by Oakland (6-6). Kansas City had a season-best 15 hits in Friday's 6-4 victory.
Scheduled starter Scott Kazmir (2-0, 0.69) looks capable of posting more zeroes as the A's try to become the first team in major league history to notch six shutouts in the first 13 games of a season. He's off to an impressive start, striking out 18 in 13 innings while giving up four hits and one run, which came on a solo homer in an 8-1 victory at Houston on Monday.
Kazmir also won his first two starts in 2014 and 2009, but has never won his first three.
The left-hander will try to overcome a poor track record against the Royals, against whom he's 4-7 with a 5.11 ERA in 17 outings. He's lost each of the last four matchups, and while he also has dropped four straight matchups with the Los Angeles Angels, he's never lost five in a row to any opponent.
Kazmir's only win in Kansas City was a 7-2 victory on June 2, 2010, with the Angels.
For all his struggles versus the Royals, he has dominated Alex Gordon, who is 6 for 31 with 10 strikeouts.
Gordon is 5 for 11 in his last three games after a 1-for-16 start.
While Kazmir has had a tough time against Kansas City, Royals starter Danny Duffy (1-0, 6.35) won all three of his previous starts versus Oakland while posting a 2.45 ERA. He allowed three runs in 6 1-3 innings of a 12-3 victory at Minnesota on Monday.
Duffy will have to contend with the hot bat of former Royal Billy Butler, whose 12-game hitting streak is the longest by a player to begin their tenure with the Athletics.
Kansas City placed All-Star closer Greg Holland on the disabled list Saturday with a strained pectoral muscle. Though the Royals didn't encounter a save opportunity, manager Ned Yost said Wade Davis would serve as closer with Holland sidelined, while Kelvin Herrera is a potential backup option.
Holland, who had four saves, hadn't surrendered a hit over four shutout innings. Davis already has one save and hasn't allowed a run in five appearances, while Herrera has tossed four scoreless innings as well.
"We've got three guys on this club that can close for any team," Yost said. ''We've got enough candidates in house to be able to handle it.''