Backed by clutch hitting and another strong pitching performance, the Kansas City Royals extended their hot streak in the opener of a six-game trip.
Now they might need more from the offense with Jeremy Guthrie taking the hill in Cincinnati.
Guthrie will try to reverse his fortune on the road as the Royals seek a 10th win in 12 games and a four-game season sweep of the Reds on Wednesday night.
Kansas City starters rank in the bottom half of the majors with a 4.18 ERA, but they’ve been key to the AL leaders’ recent success with a 1.80 mark over the past eight games.
Edinson Volquez provided the latest solid outing Tuesday when he allowed one run over six innings in a 3-1, 13-inning win in the opener of this two-game series.
It looked as though the Royals’ winning streak would end at four before Ben Zobrist homered off Aroldis Chapman in the 9th and Jarrod Dyson and Zobrist knocked in runs in the 13th. It was Chapman’s first blown save in 57 chances at home dating to September 2012.
"All I can tell you is I had a bad day," Chapman said through an interpreter. "I made a mistake."
Kansas City (72-46), which leads the AL Central by 13 1/2 games, had averaged 5.6 runs over an eight-game stretch before totaling seven in 23 innings over its past two. Alcides Escobar had three hits Tuesday while Eric Hosmer extended his hitting streak to nine games.
Guthrie (8-7, 5.63 ERA) was believed to be on the verge of losing his rotation spot Thursday before giving up one run and two hits over six innings in a 7-6 home loss to the Los Angeles Angels. He had surrendered 18 runs and 31 hits over his previous three starts.
"I thought I had good command of my fastball consistently," Guthrie told MLB’s official website. "And my curveball."
The right-hander hasn’t had command of much on the road. His 7.66 ERA in 10 starts is second to Toronto’s Drew Hutchison among pitchers with at least 50 innings away from home.
Guthrie had few issues with Cincinnati at home May 20, allowing no runs and five hits over six innings in a 7-1 win.
Brandon Phillips went 2 for 3 off Guthrie in that game and is 6 for 9 with a home run and a double lifetime. The second baseman is batting .393 during a 13-game hitting streak at home.
Eugenio Suarez’s first-inning homer accounted for the Reds’ only run Tuesday. Cincinnati has batted .163 with 51 strikeouts while totaling seven runs over its last five home games.
The Reds (51-66), who will try to avoid their fifth straight loss, will give the ball to a rookie for the 20th straight game – the longest such streak since St. Louis did it in September 1997.
Keyvius Sampson (2-1, 3.18) has shown promise, limiting opponents to three runs or fewer while going at least five innings in his three starts. The right-hander yielded two runs over five Thursday in a 10-3 road win over the Dodgers.
Omar Infante is day-to-day with back spasms for the Royals, while Billy Hamilton’s status is uncertain after the Reds center fielder jammed his shoulder in Tuesday’s 11th inning.