Cleveland (27-17) at Kansas City (19-28)
The Kansas City Royals are playing with the confidence usually seen by one of baseball's top teams, and it's translated into their best stretch of the season.
Kansas City goes for a three-game sweep of the Cleveland Indians and a season-high fourth straight win overall when the AL Central rivals wrap up their series on Thursday night.
The Royals (19-28) have recorded 25 runs and 40 hits during their winning streak, which also is the longest current run in the AL. They matched a season-high in runs with an 11-7 victory on Wednesday night - their eighth in 10 games.
Kansas City trailed 3-0 after the top of the first, but responded with two runs in the bottom of the inning and five more in the second.
"In the past, we've kind of put a little too much pressure on ourselves to get things back and get things going," said Royals second baseman Mark Grudzielanek, who was 3-for-5 with a homer and three RBIs. "I think we're relaxing now, we're coming up with some big hits, and it's contagious."
John Buck, Mike Sweeney and Alex Gordon also went deep for the Royals. Kansas City has won eight of its last 10 home matchups with the Indians and will hand the ball to Jorge De La Rosa (4-3, 3.59 ERA).
The left-hander has posted back-to-back quality starts, giving up just three total runs through 13 1-3 innings while holding opponents to a .196 batting average. He limited Colorado to two runs and six hits over 6 1-3 innings on Friday, but didn't factor in the 5-2 win.
De La Rosa is 3-1 with a 2.39 ERA in four home outings, and despite a 7.53 ERA in three career starts versus the Indians (27-17), he is 1-0 against them.
Cleveland center fielder Grady Sizemore is 3-for-8 with two homers and a double in his career versus De La Rosa. Sizemore led off with a homer Wednesday, and Casey Blake followed with another marking only the third time the Indians have opened a game with consecutive long balls.
Travis Hafner also homered for the Indians, who fell into second place just one-half game behind Detroit. Cleveland, which will try to avoid matching a season-high three-game slide, has dropped six of its last seven on the road.
The Indians have the majors' best home record at 17-4, but is 10-13 away from Jacobs Field.
Jeremy Sowers (0-4, 7.13) tries to avoid losing his fourth straight start and fifth consecutive decision for Cleveland. The left-hander has posted a 13.15 ERA and .373 opponent batting average over his last three outings.
He gave up a season-high seven runs and eight hits over six innings in a 10-5 defeat to Cincinnati on Saturday, but manager Eric Wedge still has confidence in Sowers.
"Jeremy is going to be fine," Wedge said. "He's going through what every young pitcher goes through when they get to the big leagues."
Sowers is 1-1 with a 3.27 ERA in two career starts against Kansas City.
Updated on Thursday, May 24, 2007 2:53 am EDT
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