Royals send Guthrie to mound to stop surging ‘Stros

Jeremy Guthrie and the Royals will try to avoid dropping three games under .500 for the first time since they were 14-17 on May 5.

Peter Aiken/Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

George Springer will attempt to stay red-hot while leading the Houston Astros to their longest win streak of the season.

The highly-touted rookie will also try to homer in a fifth consecutive game Tuesday night against the Kansas City Royals.

Springer went 4 for 4 with a pair of doubles and his fifth home run in four games in Monday’s series opener, a 9-2 victory that ended the Astros’ six-game skid to Kansas City. The outfielder, who also scored five runs, is the first Astros rookie to homer in four consecutive contests.

Springer is also 13 for 30 (.433) with 13 RBIs and a 1.594 OPS during an eight-game hit streak. He’s hitting .343 with eight homers and 20 RBIs in his last 18 games after batting .191 with no homers and five RBIs in his first 17 in the majors.

"This guy is a three-way player. He can impact the game when he’s in the batter’s box. He can impact the game on defense. He can impact the game on the basepaths. He brings it every day, is what I love about him," manager Bo Porter said.

While trying to add to his power surge, Springer will attempt to lead the Astros (20-32) to their first four-game win streak in 2014. They last took four in a row Sept. 9-13 and haven’t won four straight on the road since a season-high six-game run May 29-June 3.

Collin McHugh (2-3, 3.32 ERA) will try to help by earning his first win in five starts. The right-hander is 0-3 with a 5.16 ERA in his last four games but had a strong outing Wednesday at the Los Angeles Angels.

McHugh gave up two runs and four hits in seven innings, but was outdueled by Jered Weaver in a 2-1 defeat. He is facing Kansas City (24-26) for the first time.

The Royals, losers in five of seven, will try to avoid dropping three games under .500 for the first time since they were 14-17 on May 5.

Jeremy Guthrie (2-3, 4.39) gets the start in a bid to end an eight-game winless drought. Guthrie, 0-3 with a 4.58 ERA in that stretch, had a strong outing Wednesday against the Chicago White Sox.

He gave up one run, three hits and a pair of walks in his seven innings but did not get a decision in a 3-1 victory.

Guthrie began his winless stretch April 16 in Houston. He gave up four runs over six innings in his only matchup with the Astros this season and avoided the loss when the Royals rallied for a 6-4 victory in 11 innings.

Springer made his major league debut in that game and got a third-inning infield single off Guthrie before finishing 1 for 5 with a walk.

Guthrie is 1-1 with a 7.50 ERA in his last three starts against Houston. Jason Castro is 4 for 10 with two homers and a triple versus the right-hander.

Norichika Aoki is the only Royals player to have faced McHugh and is 2 for 3. Lorenzo Cain will try to build on his second four-hit game of the month and is 10 for 26 in his last six contests.

"I’m feeling pretty good at the plate," Cain said. "I have to keep it going, have to find ways to get on base for my teammates to drive me in."