The Kansas City Royals have used dominant third innings to cruise in the first two games of this series against the visiting Tampa Bay Rays.
The Royals are looking for more early offense Wednesday as they seek their first three-game sweep of the Rays in 11 years.
Kansas City (33-39) scored five times in the third inning of Monday's 8-0 victory in the opener, and came up with four in the third to erase a two-run deficit in Tuesday's 8-2 win.
The Royals were swept over the weekend by St. Louis, but feel they learned from that series.
"What the Cardinals did to us those three days is what we're doing to the Rays, just adding on and adding on," said right fielder Jeff Francoeur, who hit a three-run homer Tuesday. "It's a good time for us to get going.'
Kansas City has seen eight of its nine starters record at least one hit in the first two games, with a total of 22. The Royals last swept three against the Rays from May 15-17, 2001, at Kauffman Stadium.
"Our approach has been great. We're swinging at good pitches, we're hitting balls hard," designated hitter Billy Butler said. "We were struggling before these last three games. It feels good to put up runs."
Tampa Bay (40-34) came to town after sweeping Sunday's doubleheader at Philadelphia. The Rays have lost any momentum after going 0 for 12 with runners in scoring position in this series.
"We need to score more runs,' manager Joe Maddon said.
The Rays fell to 11-15 when facing left-handed starters after losing to Bruce Chen on Tuesday, but Sunday's victories came when the Phillies started Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee.
Royals manager Ned Yost has selected southpaw Everett Teaford (0-1, 5.73 ERA) to start this contest partly because of those struggles. Teaford will be recalled from Triple-A Omaha to temporarily take the place of Vin Mazzaro, who gave up seven runs over 1 1-3 innings in Friday's 11-4 loss to the Cardinals.
"He's been throwing the ball good and we like the lefty matchup against this club over there," Yost told the Royals' official website.
Teaford posted a 3.27 ERA in 26 appearances with three starts as a rookie in 2011. He made three appearances for the Royals this year, starting the last one April 27 and giving up four runs over four innings in a 7-6 victory at Minnesota.
"The thing I like about him is he's got three pretty good pitches he throws for strikes and he competes really well," Yost said.
Maddon will start left-hander Matt Moore (4-5, 4.13), who is 3-0 with a 2.63 ERA in his last four outings. Moore's three-start win streak ended Thursday when he yielded two runs over five innings in a 5-2 loss at Washington.
Moore has never faced the Royals or any of their hitters.
Tampa Bay has drawn 275 walks to lead the majors, but has totaled two in this series after averaging 5.2 over its previous 10 games.
The Royals are actually closer to first place than the Rays. Kansas City is five games behind the AL Central-leading White Sox while Tampa Bay trails the Yankees by 5 1/2 in the East.
The Associated Press News Service
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