Royals-Twins Preview

Jeremy Guthrie may have an excellent chance to bounce back from his shortest start in nearly four years.

The Kansas City Royals starter has already beaten the Minnesota Twins twice this season and has never lost in Minnesota heading into Thursday night's opener of a four-game set.

Guthrie (7-4, 4.20 ERA) surrendered six runs over 2 1-3 innings in Friday's 9-1 loss to the Chicago White Sox. It was his shortest start since he lasted the same amount of innings July 7, 2009, with Baltimore.

"It was one of those nights when he didn't have much going for him," said manager Ned Yost about last week's poor effort.

Guthrie is 6-2 with a 3.36 ERA in nine career starts against the Twins, going 2-0 with a 3.55 ERA in two this year. The right-hander has posted a 2.18 ERA in winning all three road starts against them, including two at Target Field.

Joe Mauer is 6 for 16 against Guthrie and Justin Morneau 6 for 19, but both of them are hitting .250 this season against Kansas City (36-39). The Royals are 5-1 in the season series.

The lone victory for Minnesota (34-40) came when promising Samuel Deduno (3-2, 3.72) pitched six-plus effective innings June 4 in a 3-0 win. He improved to 2-0 with a 0.73 ERA in two career starts against the Royals.

The right-hander will return to the mound after his three-game win streak ended in Cleveland last Friday. He allowed four runs over six-plus innings in a 5-1 defeat.

The Twins will be happy to return home after a 1-4 trip in which they scored first in each of the last four games only to lose three times. They scored three runs in the first inning of Wednesday's 5-3 defeat to Miami.

"You jump out like that with three runs quick and you think, 'Oh, here we go,' and nothing happened after that,'' manager Ron Gardenhire said. "We couldn't put them away. We had men out there. We needed another big hit early to put them away at least open the lead up and maybe have one of those kind of games, but to their credit they kept battling back.''

Kansas City won 4-3 in 10 innings on Wednesday over Atlanta in its fourth straight one-run game. Alex Gordon singled in the winning run after homering to lead off the first inning as the Royals improved to 6-1 in extra-inning contests.

"These kids are getting better," Yost said. "I think throughout the second half they will continue to that.''

Salvador Perez went 3 for 4 with two doubles, and the catcher is 9 for 22 against Minnesota in 2013. That's still not as good as Billy Butler, who is 10 for 20 in the season series and batting .455 during a 14-game hitting streak against the Twins.

Mauer is surging with 16 hits in 36 at-bats over his last eight games. Morneau, however, is 6 for 27 in the same span.

Mauer's .365 home average is second in the AL to Miguel Cabrera's major league-best .389 mark for Detroit.

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