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Twins-Royals Preview

AP - Sports

Poor play at home has made it difficult for the Kansas City Royals to sustain any success, but coming off a series victory at Kauffman Stadium, they'll try to keep things going.

The Royals could have a good chance to do so as they open a three-game series Monday night against the last-place Minnesota Twins, who may be without Joe Mauer as they look for a sixth win in seven games.

Kansas City is 16-11 on the road, but has the worst home record in the majors at 7-18. The Royals (23-29), though, won a series at Kauffman for just the second time in 2012 over the weekend, shutting out Oakland twice.

Vin Mazzaro and three relievers helped Kansas City bounce back from Saturday's 9-3 loss, combining on a seven-hitter Sunday. Eric Hosmer homered and 2011 Gold Glover Alex Gordon helped preserve a 2-0 victory by throwing a runner out at home after catching a ball in foul territory in the fifth inning.

"It was definitely a good time of the game for that to happen," Gordon said. "It gave us some momentum.''

Gordon also extended his hitting streak to seven games with his fifth double during a stretch in which he's hitting .357 (10 for 28).

Kansas City has won six of eight overall, but it won't be the only club at Kauffman trying to build on some recent success.

After sweeping Oakland at home last week, Minnesota (20-33) took two of three in Cleveland, improving to 7-4 in its last 11 road games with a 6-3 victory Sunday. Scott Diamond allowed three unearned runs in seven innings, Josh Willingham had a pair of doubles and Alexi Casilla drove in two.

Mauer, who had an RBI in the first, left in the ninth with a mild right thumb sprain. The four-time All-Star is hitting .367 the last 13 games.

"Hopefully I'll be back in there soon,'' Mauer said. "(The trainers) assured me I'm day-to-day.''

The Royals will certainly be hoping that translates into a return sometime after Wednesday. Mauer is hitting .457 (42 for 92) with 24 RBIs in 24 games against Kansas City since 2010, leading the Twins to a 17-7 record.

Each team will send a rookie to the mound in the opener.

After a tough major league debut, the Royals' Will Smith (1-1, 6.75 ERA) bounced back his last time out.

The 22-year-old left-hander gave up two runs and four hits in six innings of an 8-2 win at Cleveland on Tuesday. He failed to make it out of the fourth in the Bronx six days earlier after giving up three home runs.

"An amazing feeling," Smith said of his first victory. "You think of what it will be like your whole life. Just getting to the big leagues, and then to win? It's a dream come true."

Minnesota will counter with Cole De Vries (0-1, 2.70), who's also making his third start. De Vries pitched five scoreless innings in a 3-2 win over Oakland on Tuesday, giving up two hits and walking five.

The right-hander allowed six runs - three earned - while surrendering three homers in a loss to the White Sox five nights earlier.

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