Preview: A’s, Royals open three-game set at Kauffman

The Kansas City Royals have been putting up plenty of runs lately, though that wasn’t the case when they faced the Oakland Athletics earlier this season.

With Oakland starter Tommy Milone struggling lately, Kansas City seeks another big offensive performance as it tries to end a four-game losing streak to the visiting A’s on Friday night.

The Royals have scored 41 runs while winning four of their last six, rallying for a 10-7 win over Cleveland on Thursday. Lorenzo Cain hit his first career grand slam in the sixth, Eric Hosmer added a two-run homer in the seventh and Salvador Perez a bases-loaded double in the eighth.

“The character of this offense is we’re not quitting,” said Hosmer, who is batting .440 with five homers during a six-game hitting streak. “We told ourselves before, if we’re going to make a run at this, these are big games to make up ground, facing the teams ahead of you in the division. We didn’t want to let this opportunity slip away.”

Kansas City (40-42) sits in third place in the AL Central, 3 1/2 games behind second-place Cleveland.

“Hopefully we can get a little string of wins together,” Thursday’s starter James Shields said.

The Royals, though, have scored only five runs during their four-game skid against the A’s, and were swept in a three-game series at Oakland from May 17-19.

Milone gave up one run in five innings in a 2-1 victory in the middle game and is 2-1 with a 1.29 ERA in three career starts versus Kansas City.

He hasn’t been nearly as good of late, though. Milone (7-7, 4.17 ERA) was credited with a 7-5 win over St. Louis on Sunday, but he gave up five runs – four earned – and a career high-tying three homers in six innings. He has a 7.31 ERA over his last three starts after posting a 2.18 ERA in his previous three.

“I have to go in and check myself and keep us in the game,” the left-hander said.

Oakland (50-36) will be looking to get back on track offensively after scoring one run in each of the last two games. It was able to pull out a 1-0 win in the series finale with the Chicago Cubs on Thursday, as Derek Norris scored on a passed ball with two outs in the seventh inning.

The A’s have won six of eight despite scoring a single run in three of their last five contests.

“That’s what you look for: any chance to score,” Norris said. “I tried to kick it into another gear.”

Kansas City will send Wade Davis to the mound as he looks to bounce back from a dismal outing.

Davis (4-6, 5.55) had gone 1-0 with a 2.19 ERA over his previous four starts before tying a career worst with five walks and giving up six runs in one-plus inning of a 6-2 loss to Minnesota on Saturday.

It marked his shortest outing in 80 career starts.

“Just off. No release point at all,” Davis said. “Just one that I’m going to forget, real quick.”

The right-hander went 2-1 with a 6.75 ERA in three career starts versus the A’s through 2011 before making three relief appearances against them last season, all while with Tampa Bay.