Pirates-Royals Preview

Edinson Volquez played a significant role in getting Pittsburgh to the playoffs last season, but his final start for the Pirates was an uninspiring performance in a wild-card loss.

Now with the Kansas City Royals, Volquez will see his former team for the first time since that game Wednesday night.

Volquez went 9-1 with a 1.85 ERA in his final 17 regular-season starts for the Pirates, but he gave up five runs in five-plus innings in an 8-0 wild-card defeat to San Francisco. He was 13-7 with a career-best 3.04 ERA in 32 games with Pittsburgh before signing a two-year, $20 million deal with Kansas City in the offseason.

Volquez (8-5, 3.28 ERA) has a 2.16 ERA in his last three games, but his winless stretch reached four with a 2-0 defeat to the Chicago White Sox on Friday. He yielded two runs in 6 1-3 innings in his first loss in eight games since June 5 and was hit three times by line drives.

"I thought, actually, Volquez had his best stuff that he's had, especially in his last few starts," manager Ned Yost told MLB's official website.

The right-hander will try to help the Royals win their three-game series over Pittsburgh following a 3-1 victory Tuesday. Kansas City (56-36) had three hits in their first seven innings against Gerrit Cole, but Jarrod Dyson snapped a scoreless tie with a two-run single off the MLB wins leader in the eighth.

The Royals will face Charlie Morton (6-3, 4.34) in their attempt at a 12th win in 15 games and ninth in 11 home contests.

Morton lost to Milwaukee on Friday, giving up four runs in six innings in a 4-1 defeat. He's 1-3 with an 8.03 ERA in his last five starts after going 5-0 with a 1.62 ERA in his first five.

The Pirates (54-39) had won 10 of 11 in interleague play, including six straight on the road, before losing Tuesday. It was their fourth defeat in five games since the All-Star break after previously winning 11 of 13.

Kansas City was batting .320 in its 12 games before that victory but was held to six hits. The Royals had totaled 13 or more hits in three in a row, including a 10-7 loss in Monday's series opener. They've played the last 10 games without Alex Gordon, going 7-3 while batting .298 and averaging 4.9 runs, and likely won't have him until the season's final month.

Dyson and Paulo Orlando have split time in left field in his place. It appears the lefty-hitting Dyson will get a third straight start with Pittsburgh starting another right-hander. Orlando hasn't played in this series but is 5 for 15 with two homers and five RBIs in his last four games.

"Both guys have played great defense and got some clutch hits for us," manager Ned Yost said. "They've been key base hits in key situations."

Volquez, 2-0 in three interleague starts, is facing Pittsburgh for the first time since Aug. 20, 2012. He's 2-0 with a 4.18 ERA in nine lifetime matchups.

Morton lost his only start against Kansas City in 2009.

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