Preview: Guthrie seeks to extend Royals’ winning ways against Twins

Count Minnesota Twins starter Kevin Correia among those impressed by what the Kansas City Royals have been doing.

Correia and Jeremy Guthrie turned in a tight duel last week and will meet again Monday night in the opener of a three-game set in Kansas City.

The Royals (56-52) have won 11 of 12 and trail Cleveland by 4 1/2 games for the AL’s second wild-card spot.

The Twins are well aware of how well Kansas City is playing after being swept in a three-game home set last week to drop to 3-10 in the season series.

The middle game of that set saw right-handed starters Correia (7-7, 4.49 ERA) and Guthrie (11-7, 4.22) each pitch six innings and allow two runs. The Royals’ pitcher earned a 4-3 victory while Correia did not get a decision.

The 10 hits by Kansas City off Correia on Wednesday matched a season high against him. Minnesota (48-60) is 0-3 in his starts against the Royals, with Correia going 0-1 with a 4.91 ERA.

“I faced them early in the year,” he said. “I threw well against them, and it seems like every guy on that team has gotten better since then. Now it’s a very good offensive team. It’s a bunch of young guys continuing to get better. They have a good approach in what they’re doing.”

Correia gets a break because he won’t have to face David Lough, who is 5 for 5 with three doubles against him this year.

Lough left Sunday’s 6-2 road victory over the Mets in the fifth inning due to right quadriceps tightness. Manager Ned Yost said he won’t play in the Royals’ next two games.

Lorenzo Cain is 3 for 5 against Correia this season and Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas are both 3 for 9.

Guthrie improved to 3-1 with a 3.24 ERA in four 2013 starts against the Twins, limiting Joe Mauer to two hits in 11 at-bats and Ryan Doumit to a single in nine.

Guthrie is seeking to win four straight starts for the first time since July 28-Aug. 13, 2008, with Baltimore. The Royals have won eight of his 10 home outings.

He’ll have a different batterymate than he did last week since All-Star catcher Salvador Perez has been placed on the seven-day concussion disabled list. Perez was struck in the mask by a foul ball Saturday.

George Kottaras started Sunday and last started one of Guthrie’s outings May 30.

Alex Gordon went 6 for 14 last week against the Twins and Moustakas was 5 for 10 with two homers and five RBIs.

Billy Butler was 3 for 13 with four RBIs, although he is still batting .417 with 12 RBIs in the season series.

Mauer went 5 for 12 last week versus Kansas City but was 1 for 11 over the weekend even though the Twins swept a three-game home set from Houston. Justin Morneau was 5 for 13 over the weekend and is hitting .314 against the Royals in 2013.

Kansas City starts this 10-game homestand after an 8-1 trip.

“I’m happy about the way things are rolling for us – just keep going,” Yost told the Royals’ official website.