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Royals-Pirates Preview

AP - Sports

The Pittsburgh Pirates have enjoyed some home success during interleague play in recent years.

That likely won't make it easy for the Kansas City Royals to end their road struggles against NL opponents.

Looking to continue that interleague and overall home success, the Pirates open a weekend series against the Royals on Friday night.

At 82-132, Pittsburgh (29-27) has the majors' worst interleague record. However, the Pirates are 56-54 against AL opponents at home. They've won eight of 12 versus the AL at PNC Park since being swept by the Chicago White Sox from June 15-17, 2010.

Pittsburgh is 10-13 overall versus Kansas City, but has won four of six at home against the Royals. The Pirates took two of three there in 2009.

Kansas City (24-31), meanwhile, has lost 12 of 15 interleague road games since taking two of three at Cincinnati in 2010. The Royals snapped a seven-game road skid against NL opponents with a 16-8 win at Colorado on July 3.

After losing two of three to Minnesota, Kansas City could have a tough time regrouping against a Pittsburgh team that has won five of six at home and returns from a 4-2 trip to Milwaukee and Cincinnati.

Light-hitting catcher Michael McKenry roped an RBI double off hard-throwing Reds closer Aroldis Chapman in the 10th inning of a 5-4 victory Thursday. Chapman hadn't allowed an earned run in a club-record 24 appearances covering 29 innings.

"Probably as satisfying a win as I've had since I've been here for the ballclub,'' said Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle, whose team is two games behind the NL Central-leading Reds.

Pittsburgh center fielder Andrew McCutchen is batting .332, but is 3 for 18 in his last five interleague games. Two of those hits left the park during a 4-3 win at Detroit on May 19.

Erik Bedard (3-6, 3.72 ERA), who spent his previous eight seasons in the AL, takes the mound for the Pirates on Friday. The left-hander is 3-2 with a 3.00 ERA in six starts against the Royals, but he allowed five runs in 4 2-3 innings of a 6-5 loss at Kansas City last season while with Seattle.

Bedard gave up two hits in six scoreless innings of a 10-4 win over the Cubs on May 27, then was roughed up for a season-high five runs in 3 2-3 innings of a 5-1 loss at Milwaukee on Saturday.

Kansas City's Billy Butler and Jeff Francoeur are a combined 5 for 7 versus Bedard.

Butler is 7 for 16 in his last four games overall but 3 for 16 in his last eight against NL opponents. The Royals still want the designated hitter in the lineup, moving him to first with Eric Hosmer shifting to the outfield. Hosmer is batting .323 in his last nine games

Kansas City's Luke Hochevar (3-6, 6.63) is 4-3 with a 5.10 ERA in 11 starts versus NL opponents and 0-3 with a 5.73 ERA in his last four outings overall. The right-hander allowed at least six runs for the fourth time this season, lasting 4 2-3 innings for the second consecutive start in Saturday's 9-3 loss to Oakland.

"We think that we need to get him to focus more on his core pitches," manager Ned Yost told the Royals' official website. "If he can do that, we think that's going to be the difference."

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