Giants-Royals Preview

Billy Butler has been sizzling for the Kansas City Royals during their six-game win streak.

Danny Duffy surely would appreciate it if Butler’s hot hitting continues Sunday.

Duffy owns the lowest run support average at home in the majors as he opposes the San Francisco Giants’ Tim Lincecum in this three-game series finale.

Kansas City (62-53) has pulled within 1 1/2 games of first-place Detroit in the AL Central race thanks in part to Butler, who is 12 for 23 with two homers, four doubles and six RBIs over his last six games.

He had a three-run homer as part of a four-hit effort Tuesday in a 12-2 rout at Arizona in which Duffy (6-10, 2.39 ERA) earned his first win in six starts by yielding one run in five innings.

"Our pitching has picked us up all year and for us to give Duffy some support like that, especially a guy we haven’t been giving any to, was big for us," Butler said.

Duffy is limiting opponents to a .189 average at home for baseball’s fourth-best mark. The left-hander is 1-4 with a 2.66 ERA in eight starts at Kauffman Stadium, where he has a 1.14 run support average.

Left-handed hitters are batting .146 against Duffy, who has never faced the Giants. He hasn’t faced anyone available for San Francisco, who used three lefty-hitting batters in Saturday’s 5-0 defeat.

Lincecum (9-7, 4.22) is 0-2 with a 7.40 ERA in four starts since the All-Star break, giving up three runs over six innings and not factoring in the decision in Tuesday’s 4-3 loss at Milwaukee. This will be his first look at numerous Royals hitters – including Butler, Salvador Perez and Lorenzo Cain – while Raul Ibanez is 1 for 16 against him.

The right-hander’s lone start against Kansas City came in 2008, when he surrendered five runs over five innings and did not get a decision in an 11-10 loss.

His batterymate is expected to be rookie Andrew Susac, with Buster Posey likely to serve as the designated hitter.

San Francisco (62-55) has totaled three runs while striking out 28 times during its three-game slide. The Giants haven’t scored in their last 15 innings, losing 4-2 on Friday.

Duffy has a tough act to follow after James Shields tossed a four-hitter Saturday. Alex Gordon homered in the Royals’ ninth win in 10 games, giving him two homers and four RBIs in his last three.

”They’re playing very well,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said of the Royals. ”When you play good teams you have to play your best ball. Last night we let it get away. Tonight we just ran into a well-pitched game.”

Bochy said Brandon Crawford would have the rest of the weekend off, with the shortstop sitting out Saturday due to a 2-for-25 slide. Rookie Matt Duffy is expected to get a second straight start in Crawford’s place.

The Giants are 33-25 on the road for the NL’s second-best mark and have yet to be swept away from home. They are 2-6 all-time in Kansas City.