(Sports Network) - Interleague play hasn't been good for the Houston Astros as of late. The Kansas City Royals, on the other hand, seem to be enjoying their recent matchups against National League Central teams.
Fresh off their highest-scoring output of the season, the Royals will try to send the Astros to a seventh straight interleague loss when the two clubs continue a three-game series tonight at Kauffman Stadium.
Kansas City entered this set after taking two of three bouts on the road from NL Central co-leader Cincinnati over the weekend, then put forth a tremendous offensive display in Tuesday's opener to win for the fourth time in its last five games. The Royals matched a season best with 20 hits in last night's 15-7 battering of the Astros, with Mike Aviles going 4-for-5 with four RBI and three runs scored to lead the outburst.
Alberto Callaspo, Billy Butler and David DeJesus each had three hits for Kansas City, which put up 15 runs in a game for the first time since a 17-3 triumph over Seattle on July 3, 2007. Yuniesky Betancourt added a three-run double during a huge fifth inning in which the Royals scored seven times -- all with two outs -- to erase an early 6-3 deficit.
DeJesus began the rally with a single off Astros starter Felipe Paulino and Butler followed with a walk before an interference call on Houston catcher Humberto Quintero loaded the bases. Back-to-back singles by Callaspo and Aviles plated a total of three runs and tied the score, and after a walk to Mitch Maier again filled the sacks, Betancourt cleared them with a double to left for a 9-6 Kansas City lead.
"That was huge just getting someone on," DeJesus said. "Then A.C. (Callaspo), getting him back swinging the bat, it's just a matter of time."
Callaspo had been hitting just .143 (6-for-42) in June prior to last night's breakout. Butler, conversely, has been red-hot at the plate, with the first baseman having gone 15-for-30 with six RBI in the team's seven interleague games this year.
Kanekoa Teixeira (1-1) picked up his first major league win on Tuesday with two innings in relief of Royals starter Kyle Davies, who lasted just three innings and was pounded for six runs on six hits.
Paulino (1-8) was equally as bad as his counterpart, allowing 10 runs (eight earned) and 11 hits before being lifted after 4 2/3 frames.
"We put him in a position he's been so good in, getting out of those innings all year long," said Astros manager Brad Mills of Paulino. "It just didn't happen [Tuesday]."
Jason Michaels had a two-run homer and both Michael Bourn and Pedro Feliz knocked in a pair of runs as well for Houston, which had been swept in a three-game series with the New York Yankees prior to this set. The Astros fell to 1-6 against the AL so far this season.
Kansas City's chances for another offensive barrage could be compromised by the presence of Houston ace Roy Oswalt in tonight's tilt. The three-time NL All-Star bounced back strongly from back-to-back uncharacteristically bad performances when he took the mound last Thursday at Colorado's Coors Field. Oswalt held the Rockies to two runs over seven innings and matched a season best with nine strikeouts in Houston's 5-4 win, continuing an outstanding run of success on the road in 2010.
The standout right-hander has allowed just four runs in 29 innings over four away starts this season, while amassing a 3-1 record during that sequence. He's also had success against the Royals in the past, having surrendered a mere two runs through a combined 14 frames in two previous meetings with Kansas City, one a win and the other a no-decision.
Prior to Thursday's verdict, Oswalt had been reached for six runs in seven innings of a home loss to the Chicago Cubs on June 5. Five days earlier, the 32-year-old permitted four runs and walked three in a 2 1/3-inning stint against Washington.
The Royals send out Bruce Chen for tonight's clash, with the well-traveled southpaw looking to keep up his surprising recent success. Since replacing the disabled Gil Meche in the Kansas City rotation a few weeks back, the Panama native has compiled a 2-0 record with a 4.70 ERA and struck out 16 batters in 15 1/3 innings.
Chen tossed five innings of two-run ball to best Detroit June 4 at Kauffman Stadium, then worked into the seventh frame in a road victory over AL Central leader Minnesota this past Thursday. The soon-to-be 33-year-old gave up just one run over the first six innings of that game, but tired in the seventh and was charged with four more runs while getting only one out.
This will be Chen's fifth start and 10th career appearance against Houston, but first since 2005. He's 1-0 with a 2.65 ERA lifetime versus the Astros.
Kansas City won two of three bouts from Houston when these teams met at Minute Maid Park last season. The Astros are 5-2 all-time as the visitor in this series, however.