May 18, 2015

The Kansas City Royals have a chance at a franchise record, but they'd surely settle for a fifth win in six games.

Jeremy Guthrie will try to lead the Royals to a third straight shutout and send the Cincinnati Reds to their longest losing streak of the season Wednesday night.

Despite ranking toward the bottom of the majors with a 4.32 ERA from its starting pitchers, Kansas City (25-14) has recorded back-to-back shutouts for the first time since Sept. 29-30, 1992.

Yordano Ventura went seven innings and combined with two relievers on a four-hitter in Tuesday's 3-0 win over Cincinnati. That came two days after Edinson Volquez worked the first seven innings of a six-hitter in a 6-0 victory over the New York Yankees.

Kansas City, which has never had three straight shutouts, should feel confident about its chances with the resurgent Guthrie (3-2, 5.44 ERA) on the mound. He's 2-0 with a 2.92 ERA in his last two starts after going 1-2 with a 6.52 ERA in his first five.

The right-hander, though, is 0-2 with a 6.88 ERA in three home outings.

Guthrie gave up two runs over five innings in a 6-3 win at Texas on Thursday.

"He did a nice job of mixing up his pitches," manager Ned Yost told MLB's official website. "He did the things we say you need to do to be successful. He was working the ball in really well, good changeups, good sliders. Just great command."

Guthrie, who hasn't faced the Reds (18-21) since 2012, will want to be careful with Brandon Phillips, who is 4 for 6 with a home run and double in this matchup.

Cincinnati has lost four straight to match a season high, with its starting rotation posting a 12.00 ERA in those games. Giving the ball to Jason Marquis (3-3, 6.63) may not provide much relief, either.

The right-hander has surrendered 11 runs and 17 hits - five homers - in 8 2-3 innings while losing his last two starts. He was pulled after three innings Friday, giving up six runs and two homers in a 10-2 loss to San Francisco.

"He's missing with the changeup that's staying on the arm side, away to lefties and in to right-handers," manager Bryan Price told MLB's official website. "The fastball command of the bottom of the zone and working ahead hasn't been as consistent as it was earlier.

"I know he's working hard on it. I tried to make an adjustment with his mechanics between starts ... just to stay back and give himself time to gather and get out in front with his stuff."

He'll have to deal with Mike Moustakas, who continued his interleague success Tuesday with three hits and a pair of RBI doubles. He's hitting .412 (14 for 34) with eight RBIs in his last nine games against the NL, and is 2 for 2 with a homer versus Marquis.

Also swinging a hot bat for Kansas City is Omar Infante, who is 9 for 20 with two doubles and a triple over the last five games. Infante is batting .412 over his last 13 matchups against the Reds.

The Royals have won six of the last seven meetings with Cincinnati, including all four at home.

Joey Votto is 5 for 34 in nine games after going 0 for 4 Tuesday. He's doubled on both of his hits in four at-bats against Guthrie.

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