The Royals come in with losses in 12 of their last 15 games to fall to .500 for the first time this season. Since starting 16-3, the Royals have won just 11 of 24.
Kansas City’s slide included losses in three of four to Oakland over the weekend, capped by a 6-4 defeat on Sunday. The Royals rallied to tie the game in the seventh inning before the Athletics scored two runs in the eighth.
“Everyone on the ballclub is trying to do too much,” Royals manager Tony Pena said. “We want to do everything perfect and we end up making mistakes.”
With their slump, the Royals have wasted some torrid hitting by Mike Sweeney. The veteran first baseman is batting .452 (14-for-31) during his current nine-game hitting streak. Sweeney has reached base safely in 33 straight games and in 64 of his last 139 plate appearances for an on-base percentage of .460.
The Dodgers also come in struggling, with losses in five of six since having a 10-game winning streak snapped last week. Los Angeles dropped two of three to the hapless Milwaukee Brewers over the weekend, including a 4-3 decision on Sunday.
“We played so well for 10 games,” Dodgers catcher Paul Lo Duca said. “I think we sort of got into a happy place where we just thought we were going to keep winning. But the last six games we haven’t played well offensively, defensively—everything.”
One bright spot for the Dodgers on Sunday was the return of leadoff hitter Dave Roberts, who had been sidelined with a hamstring injury. Roberts, who was leading the NL with 18 stolen bases before getting hurt, went 0-for-3.
STANDINGS: Royals - 2nd place, 3 1/2 GB, AL Central. Dodgers - 2nd place, 4 1/2 GB, NL West.
ROYALS PROBABLE STARTER: Jeremy Affeldt (3-3, 4.66 ERA). Affeldt is coming off a rough outing against Seattle on Wednesday, allowing five runs and eight hits over six innings in a 5-2 loss. The left-hander has never faced the Dodgers.
DODGERS PROBABLE STARTER: Odalis Perez (4-3, 4.34 ERA). Perez was hammered in his start at Coors Field on Thursday, allowing nine runs and 11 hits over just three innings in the Dodgers’ eventual 12-5 loss to Colorado. The hard-throwing southpaw has never faced the Royals.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Royals - Sweeney, .311 avg. and 30 RBIs; Sweeney and Carlos Beltran, 9 HRs; Raul Ibanez, 33 runs; Beltran, 10 SBs. Dodgers - Lo Duca, .328 avg.; Fred McGriff, 9 HRs and 31 RBIs; Shawn Green, 28 runs; Roberts, 18 SBs.
2002 INTERLEAGUE RECORDS: Royals - 5-13; Dodgers - 12-6.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Royals - RHP Runelvys Hernandez, Kansas City’s opening day starter, gave up one run and three hits over five innings in a rehabilitation start for Triple-A Omaha on Sunday. The right-hander, who has been on the disabled list since May 17 with inflammation in his pitching elbow, walked two and struck out five. … RF Michael Tucker has thrown a runner out at the plate in back-to-back games. … RHP Jason Grimsley has made 31 appearances this season, the most in the American League. Dodgers - The Dodgers have the 24th pick in Tuesday’s the amateur draft. None of their first-round picks have made a reasonable impact since 1B Paul Konerko, who was selected in 1994 and traded three years later to Cincinnati for RHP Jeff Shaw. … OF Daryle Ward was placed on the 15-day DL, retroactive to May 29, with tendinitis in his right wrist. … Manager Jim Tracy said the club is not ruling out the possibility of surgery for backup C Todd Hundley, who has already received three epidural injections in his ailing back.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Royals - 13-15 on the road; Dodgers - 17-11 at home.
INJURIES: Royals - INF Carlos Febles (finger), 15-day DL; OF Dee Brown (wrist), 15-day DL; RHP Miguel Asencio (elbow), 15-day DL; RHP Hernandez (elbow), 15-day DL; RHP Albie Lopez (groin), 15-day DL. Dodgers - C Hundley (sciatic nerve), 15-day DL; OF Ward (wrist), 15-day DL; LHP Troy Brohawn (rotator cuff), 15-day DL; LHP Derek Thompson (elbow), 60-day DL.
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