Kansas City (29-38) at Atlanta (39-28)

Mostly Cloudy Currently: Atlanta, GA
Temp: 78° F
  • Game info: 7:35 pm EDT Fri Jun 18, 2010
  • TV: FSKC, PTV
Preview | Box Score | Recap

Not even a team tied for the best record in baseball could give the NL East-leading Atlanta Braves much trouble at Turner Field. The Kansas City Royals, however, could pose a problem.

The Braves look to continue their superb play at home Friday night when they face the hot-hitting Royals for the first time in six years.

Atlanta (39-28) leads the league with a 21-7 home record, winning 11 of 12 with a .293 batting average and 11 homers in those games. The club’s starters have compiled a 2.82 ERA during that span.

The Braves’ outstanding play at Turner Field has helped them remain atop the NL East ahead of surging New York, which is a half-game back.

Atlanta maintained that edge by taking two of three from AL East co-leader Tampa Bay, capping the series with a 3-1 win Thursday. Braves starters allowed three earned runs in the set.

“Two out of three against any team is very good, especially a team like that,” said right-hander Tim Hudson(notes), who earned the victory Thursday. “We just played some good, clean baseball. We’re a tough, gritty team.”

The Royals (29-38) are getting tougher, winning five of seven while hitting .303 with seven homers after going 3-8 in their previous 11.

They batted .346 in taking two of three from Houston, winning the finale 5-2 on Thursday.

Billy Butler(notes) has helped power Kansas City’s offensive surge, going 12 for 22 with six doubles, one homer and five RBIs over five games. The first baseman leads the Royals with a career-high .339 average.

He will try to help Kansas City take another series in Atlanta, as the Royals won two of three in the only matchup between the clubs June 15-17, 2004.

Derek Lowe(notes) (8-5, 4.81) will try to cool off Butler and the Royals in his first start against them since a 9-6 loss with the Los Angeles Dodgers on June 16, 2005.

The right-hander did not get a decision despite a strong outing Saturday, allowing two runs in 7 1-3 innings of a 3-2 win at Minnesota. Lowe bounced back from a rough outing five days before, when he gave up seven runs in four innings of a 7-4 defeat at Arizona.

Despite his excellent performance against the Twins, Lowe is 1-3 with a 6.84 ERA in five interleague starts since joining the Braves last year.

Taking the ball at home could help him improve that record, as he has won his last two outings at Turner Field with a 1.20 ERA.

The Royals’ Brian Bannister(notes) (6-4, 5.40) will be looking to rebound from perhaps his worst performance of the season, as his five-game winning streak came to an end in ugly fashion Saturday.

The right-hander allowed 11 runs and 10 hits - three homers - in three-plus innings of an 11-5 loss at Cincinnati.

“He was over the plate,” manager Ned Yost said. “When he’s on, he works the corners, in and out.”

Bannister has struggled on the road, going 1-3 with an 8.22 ERA in six outings. His only appearance against the Braves was a perfect inning of relief as a Mets rookie Sept. 27, 2006.

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Starting Pitchers

B. Bannister KC vs. D. Lowe Tex
7-12 Record 16-12
6.34 ERA 4.00
77 K 136
50 BB 61
1.63 WHIP 1.37

Scoreboard

Friday, Jun 18