Royals-A’s preview

(AP) — While the Kansas City Royals are surging, the Oakland Athletics are doing nothing of the kind – and their bats aren’t inspiring much confidence in changing that.

The A’s will try to get their offense going in an effort to avoid a 10th straight loss Saturday at Kansas City.

Oakland (22-30) has dropped nine in a row for the first time since a 10-game slide May 30-June 9 of last year.

The A’s have been shut out four times during the skid, including each of the last two games. They had three hits and fell 2-0 to the Royals (22-28) in the opener of this three-game set Friday night.

While Kansas City has won three in a row and five of six, Oakland has been outscored 39-12 over the last nine contests while hitting .165.

The A’s are among the worst offensive teams in the majors with a .208 average, .329 slugging percentage, .287 on-base percentage and an average of 3.2 runs.

“It’s pretty much the same story offensively. We’re having some struggles,” manager Bob Melvin said. “No matter what you’re doing, you’re always trying to find things to do to better yourself. We’re just having trouble doing it.”

Production from Yoenis Cespedes would be welcome after he went 0 for 4 with two strikeouts Friday in his return from the disabled list. He missed 22 games with a strained muscle in his left hand.

The rookie center fielder is hitting .236 with five homers and 21 RBIs, and he’s 2 for 13 with six strikeouts in four meetings with the Royals.

Melvin may find comfort in giving the ball to Brandon McCarthy (3-3, 2.95 ERA), who is expected to return from a strained shoulder that landed him on the DL on May 20.

Each of the right-hander’s last four starts have ended in wins for Oakland, while he’s gone 3-0 with a 2.42 ERA. However, McCarthy is 0-1 with a 4.12 ERA in seven games – two starts – against the Royals since beating them with the Chicago White Sox on May 7, 2006.

He lost his last visit to Kansas City on May 7, 2011, allowing four runs in 8 1-3 innings.

The Royals are looking to match their longest winning streak of the season as they counter with Luke Hochevar (3-5, 6.19), who is 0-6 with a 6.39 ERA in seven career starts versus the A’s.

The right-hander has struggled at home this year, going 0-3 with a 9.87 ERA in four starts while allowing opponents to hit .342.

Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas, hitting .313 at home compared to .239 on the road, is 5 for 12 with one homer, six RBIs and five walks in the past four games overall.