Venue: Petco Park
The Kansas City Royals are only percentage points ahead of last place in their division, while the San Diego Padres are showing signs they might climb out of the cellar soon.
To accomplish that, the Padres will try to keep the Royals from recording their first victory in San Diego during a three-game series that begins Monday night.
Kansas City (33-45) bounced back from a six-game skid by winning its final two games against the Chicago Cubs over the weekend, and now has a chance for its first three-game winning streak since a four-game run April 29-May 3.
Alex Gordon extended his hitting streak to 13 games during Sunday's 6-3 victory. His RBI double highlighted a four-run first inning and helped the Royals pull just ahead of slumping Minnesota in the AL Central.
"Hopefully we can keep it rolling going into this (nine-game) road trip and carry it over into nice, cool San Diego," Gordon told the team's official website.
The Padres are one game behind fourth-place Los Angeles in the NL West but have won four of five. Jason Bartlett drove in the tying run with two outs in the eighth inning Sunday and Orlando Hudson followed with a two-run single in a 4-1 home victory over Atlanta.
"We're playing good baseball," Bartlett said. "It's tough when we're not getting that big hit that we need. We got one (Sunday), but we definitely could have had a lot more W's."
San Diego (34-45) has claimed four of six all-time matchups with Kansas City, including a three-game home sweep in 2004. Petco Park, which opened that same season, is the only current major league stadium in which the Royals have never celebrated a win.
Judging by Jeff Francis' recent starts against the Padres, Kansas City could have a difficult time ending its drought in San Diego on Monday.
The left-hander was 0-2 with a 10.64 ERA in three matchups last season, while pitching for Colorado. He's 5-12 with a 5.66 ERA in 21 career starts against San Diego, the only opponent to hand him more than seven losses.
Francis (3-8, 4.76 ERA) has dropped three of his last four starts, but he had a respectable performance in his last outing, giving up three runs and five hits over seven innings of Wednesday's 3-2 loss to Arizona.
"Francis only allowed one hard-hit ball," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "He threw the ball very well, kept us in the game and gave us a chance."
Francis will be opposed by San Diego's Mat Latos (4-8, 4.22), who is 0-2 with a 5.29 ERA in his last three starts. The 23-year-old right-hander couldn't hold an early three-run lead Tuesday in Boston, giving up four runs and a season-high 10 hits but also striking out a season high eight. He didn't get a decision in the Padres' 5-4 victory.
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