Kansas City (29-39) at Houston (32-36)

Partly Cloudy Currently: Houston, TX
Temp: 86° F
  • Game info: 8:05 pm EDT Tue Jun 23, 2009
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Zack Greinke(notes) helped fuel Kansas City’s strong start. He’s also played a significant role in the Royals’ recent struggles.

Greinke tries again to recapture his early season form and help the Royals avoid a sixth straight defeat Tuesday night in the opener of a three-game series with the Houston Astros.

Kansas City (29-39) had sole possession of first place in the AL Central with an 18-11 record May 7, thanks in large part to Greinke’s dominance at the start of the season.

The Royals, however, have plummeted in the standings with an 11-28 record since, and Greinke (8-3, 1.96 ERA) has been part of the problem over the last three weeks. After opening the season 8-1 with a 0.84 ERA in his first 10 starts, the right-hander is 0-2 with a 5.19 ERA in his last four - all Kansas City losses.

“You go through streaks like that throughout the year,” Greinke said after being reached for six runs - four earned - in 6 2-3 innings of a 12-5 loss to Arizona on Wednesday. “I’m better than what I’ve done the past couple of starts.

“I felt like I started pitching better today. I just didn’t finish it. For some reason, I’m having trouble doing that lately when usually I can finish off innings real good. That’s what’s really been the problem the last four starts is getting two outs and then not getting the last guy out.”

Greinke, 5-1 with a 2.58 ERA in 11 interleague games - five starts - since the start of the 2007 season, has never faced Houston.

He’ll take the mound looking to snap Kansas City’s five-game losing streak. The Royals gave up a double-figure run total for the fourth time during the skid in a 12-5 loss to St. Louis on Sunday.

“It’s been all-around. We haven’t really been performing that well at the plate, in the field or on the mound,” third baseman Mark Teahen(notes) told the Royals’ official Web site. “You’ve got do all those well to win games, and we’re not doing any of them all that well right now.”

The Astros (32-35) have been doing very well in one of those areas, posting a 3.73 ERA while winning 13 of 20. Prior to this stretch, they were near the bottom of the league with a 4.66 ERA.

Wandy Rodriguez(notes) held Minnesota to one run and two hits in seven innings of Houston’s 4-1 victory Sunday. The Astros took two of three from the Twins and have won six of their last seven series.

“We need to keep playing good baseball, that’s the biggest key for us,” manager Cecil Cooper told the Astros’ official Web site. “When we don’t get good pitching, it’s difficult. Most guys will tell you (that) you have to pitch well in order to win. In this series, we got three good-pitched ballgames, and that made a difference.”

Russ Ortiz(notes) (3-2, 3.60) will try to continue that success on the mound Tuesday. The right-hander has a 2.38 ERA in two starts since returning to the rotation from the bullpen.

He gave up four runs in six innings of Houston’s 5-4, 10-inning loss at Texas on Wednesday.

Ortiz is 0-0 with a 3.21 ERA in two starts against Kansas City, which he hasn’t faced since 2005.

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Starting Pitchers

Z. Greinke LAD vs. R. Ortiz LAD
16-8 Record 3-6
2.16 ERA 5.57
242 K 65
51 BB 48
1.07 WHIP 1.67


Tuesday, Jun 23