Preview: Guthrie, Royals seek series win over O's
The Baltimore Orioles have had a run of solid starting pitching performances, though their last two efforts were wasted in losses to the Kansas City Royals.
Red-hot Miguel Gonzalez figures to give them a good shot at getting back on track Thursday night when the Orioles seek a series split at Kauffman Stadium.
Wei-Yin Chen provided Baltimore with another effective outing Wednesday, allowing only a solo Eric Hosmer homer through seven innings before serving up a tying two-run shot to Hosmer in the eighth.
Shortstop Alcides Escobar later came through with a walk-off double off Darren O'Day to seal a 4-3 victory for the Royals (47-51).
While the Orioles have received seven straight quality starts, Baltimore (57-45) has plated just five runs while dropping the last two. The team had totaled 30 runs while hitting .319 during its preceding five-game winning streak.
Baltimore, though, may be able to bounce back offensively against a struggling Jeremy Guthrie (9-7, 4.41 ERA).
The right-hander, who won his first five decisions of the season, is 2-4 with a 6.05 ERA in his last seven starts. He was tagged for five runs and 10 hits over six innings in a 6-5 victory over Detroit on Saturday.
Guthrie has been hit particularly hard at home, going 1-1 with a 9.82 ERA in his last three starts.
The former Oriole faces his old club for the second time after yielding two runs - one earned - over six innings in a 6-2 win at Baltimore on May 9.
Slugger Chris Davis hit one of his major league-leading 37 home runs in that meeting for his only hit in 13 career at-bats when facing Guthrie. After going 2 for 4 with three RBIs in Monday's 9-2 win, Davis is 1 for 7 with three strikeouts in the past two games.
Catcher Matt Wieters, however, continued his recent tear, going 2 for 4 with his 14th homer in Wednesday's loss. He's 13 for 26 with three homers during a seven-game road hitting streak.
Gonzalez (8-3, 3.34), who has gone 6-1 with a 2.35 ERA in his last eight starts, has also excelled on the road. His 2.83 road ERA over the past two seasons ranks among the lowest in the major leagues.
The right-hander pitched into the sixth inning for the 23rd consecutive start - one of the longest active streaks in baseball - as he allowed one run over 6 2/3 innings in Saturday's 7-4 win at Texas.
"I've started off a little slow and building up throughout the whole year and I think that's what counts," Gonzalez said. "Hopefully I can keep it going and keep our team in good ballgames and win some more."
Gonzalez will try to put together another solid effort against a Kansas City team that has won four of six despite going 7 for 43 (.163) with runners in scoring position.
He pitched well in his only career start against the Royals, giving up one run over eight innings in a 7-1 victory Aug. 10.
Catcher Salvador Perez homered off Gonzalez that day, but enters this contest 5 for 44 (.114) in his last 13 games.
Fellow All-Star Alex Gordon, 5 for 41 (.122) over his last 11 games, is expected to return to the lineup after being given Wednesday off.