Royals go for sweep against visiting Angels

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Ian Kennedy hopes good starting pitching is contagious.

Kennedy starts Sunday in the series finale as the Kansas City Royals go for a sweep against the Los Angeles Angels.

In the past three games, Royals starters Jason Vargas, Danny Duffy and Nathan Karns have allowed two earned runs in 20 2/3 innings and only 11 hits.

“It helps when other guys are doing good,” Kennedy said. “It’s funny how it works. You want to keep it up if other guys are doing good. No matter what, if you’re doing bad, you want to stop the bad streak.

“You want to keep the good streaks going on. You just want to be good no matter what happens. You see the other guys doing well, you want to keep it up. You don’t want to be the guy that messes it up. It’s a lot of fun when you see the other starters in the rotation like Duffy throw so well and Vargy throw so well. It’s a lot of fun to watch.”

With Duffy and Vargas throwing left-handed, Kennedy said he is apt to pick up more from Karns, a right-hander like him. Karns allowed one first-inning run on three hits and yielded just one single after that over six innings in a no-decision Saturday.

“Sometimes you can learn from like Nate being right in front of me,” Kennedy said. “It’s beneficial at times. It does help. You watch them and how they look and what lineup you’re going to get maybe.”

Kennedy has had little success against the Angels. He is 0-4 with a 6.55 ERA in five appearances, four of them starts.

The Angels have been struggling offensively during a four-game losing streak.

“One thing is if you’re constantly coming from behind — tonight we were in the game — but if you’re constantly coming from behind, your offense can stall,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “We’ve come back a number of times this year, but you want to get the game on your terms, so you keep pressuring teams.

“We haven’t been able to do that. We’ve got a lot of confidence in what we’re going to do in the batter’s box. The last week it’s been a little bit spotty.”

Scioscia switched up the lineup Friday, having Albert Pujols play first base for the first time this season. Mike Trout was the designated hitter, giving his legs a rest with the Angels playing 20 straight days. Trout, the reigning American League MVP, was the DH in 11 games last year.

“Any time we get a chance to get Mike at DH, we’re going to take advantage of it,” Scioscia said.

The Angels are batting .257 through a dozen games. Trout is hitting .333 with three home runs and 10 RBIs, while second baseman Danny Espinosa is hitting just .214, he has three home runs and 12 RBIs.

Left-hander Tyler Skaggs will start Sunday for the Angels. He is 0-1 with an 8.71 ERA. In two starts, he has allowed 10 runs on 13 hits, including three home runs, five walks and a hit batter in 10 1/3 innings.

Skaggs has faced the Royals only once, tossing seven scoreless innings last July at Kauffman Stadium.