Royals-Diamondbacks Preview

The Associated Press

One of their best performances at the plate this season and another strong showing from their pitchers put the Kansas City Royals on the verge of taking over an AL wild card spot.

The Royals will try to claim that while recording their longest road win streak in interleague play Wednesday night against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Kansas City (58-53) used an eight-run fifth inning to power its way to a 12-2 rout in Tuesday's series opener. Nori Aoki hit his first career grand slam and Billy Butler and Salvador Perez each had three-run shots as Royals recorded their season-high run total and 10th win in 13 games.

Kansas City has hit a major league-low 65 homers, and had one in its prior seven games.

"You score 10 runs off of three swings of the bat, you'll take it," manager Ned Yost said. "I'm not really (used to it), but I'll take it when I can get it."

Kansas City, also winners in five of six on the road, had 15 hits Tuesday and has a combined 39 in its last three games. Its pitching staff has posted a 2.75 ERA in the last 13 contests with the bullpen allowing three earned runs in the last 20 innings.

That's helped the Royals move within a half-game of Toronto in the race for the AL's second wild card.

Yordano Ventura (8-8, 3.50 ERA) will try to help vault his team into that spot by building on a 6-3 win against Minnesota on Thursday. The right-hander gave up two runs in seven innings and struck out seven for the second straight start.

Ventura, though, enters having gone 0-1 with a 9.64 ERA in his last two road starts after posting a 4-1 record and a 2.32 ERA in his first six this season.

In his first start against Arizona, Ventura will try to lead Kansas City to a sixth consecutive road victory in interleague play. The Royals are 9-4 against the NL this season, matching their win total from 20 matchups in 2013.

Kansas City hasn't recorded double-digit interleague wins in a season since going 13-5 in 2008. The Diamondbacks have lost in six of their last eight against the AL and have a 7.05 ERA in a 1-3 start to August.

"This was not a good night for us all around," manager Kirk Gibson said after his team's latest miserable showing.

Josh Collmenter (8-5, 4.07) has a 6.20 ERA in losing all four career interleague starts, but is 2-0 with a 2.22 ERA in his last four at home.

Collmenter, who will make his first start against the Royals, has one win in his last five overall starts in part due to a combination of two poor outings and a dearth of run support.

He yielded three runs and four hits in 5 1-3 innings Thursday against visiting Pittsburgh but did not get a decision in a 7-4 victory.

Aoki is the most successful of the six active Royals players to have faced Collmenter, going 2 for 3 with a double.

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