That should mean the Rays have a decided edge since they are hosting this four-game series with the Royals that begins Thursday night.
Only two of the last 15 meetings have been won by the visiting team. Kansas City (30-33) has lost seven of eight at Tropicana Field while getting limited to a .199 average and 14 runs. The Royals had 17 runs and 24 hits in sweeping a two-game home set against Tampa Bay (35-30) from April 30-May 1.
Kansas City is brimming with confidence heading into the opener of a seven-game trip after taking two of three from Detroit to pull within 5 1/2 games of the first-place Tigers.
The Royals have won seven of eight overall after a dramatic 3-2, 10-inning victory Wednesday. Lorenzo Cain hit a tying, two-run homer off Jose Valverde with two outs in the ninth, and Eric Hosmer had the winning RBI single in the 10th.
"That was a great win," Hosmer said. "We're down to our last strike with the closer on the mound. That's just the character of this team. We're not going to give up until the last out is made."
Kansas City starters own a 1.90 ERA over the last eight games while the bullpen has yielded one run over its last 25 2-3 innings.
Cain has seven RBIs in his last six games, and Salvador Perez is batting .367 during an eight-game hitting streak. Cain and Perez combined to go 8 for 17 with four RBIs in the first series between these clubs.
Royals manager Ned Yost will miss this game to attend his daughter's wedding. Bench coach Chino Cadahia will manage in his place.
Tampa Bay had been surging offensively with 31 runs over a four-game stretch before being stifled in Wednesday's 2-1 loss to Boston.
"They did a nice job against us because we've been scoring a lot of runs," manager Joe Maddon said.
Evan Longoria will try to homer in four consecutive games for the first time in his career after he had three solo shots as the Rays dropped two of three to the Red Sox.
Both teams will start right-handers Thursday.
Tampa Bay's Jeremy Hellickson (4-2, 5.18 ERA) hasn't lost since April 25, although that's mostly because of a 6.86 run support average that ranks among baseball's best.
Hellickson has been pitching better lately with victories in consecutive starts, including six stellar innings in Saturday's 8-0 win over Baltimore.
Kansas City's Ervin Santana (4-5, 2.99), meanwhile, owns a much lower run support average of 3.20. He earned his 100th victory Saturday by surrendering two runs in seven innings of a 7-2 win over Houston, also ending a personal four-game slide.
Santana's 6.84 ERA at Tropicana Field is his third-worst mark at any AL ballpark, and he's 2-5 in nine starts there.
|Kansas City Royals|
|May 16, 2013||Jarrod Dyson||15-Day DL||Right ankle sprain|
|March 31, 2013||Danny Duffy||60-Day DL||Recovery from left elbow surgery|
|February 12, 2013||Felipe Paulino||60-Day DL||Recovery from right elbow surgery|
|Tampa Bay Rays|
|June 05, 2013||Kelly Johnson||Day-to-Day||Back stiffness|
|May 16, 2013||David Price||15-Day DL||Left triceps strain|
|May 15, 2013||David Price||Day-to-Day||Left tricep tightness|
|May 08, 2013||Brandon Gomes||15-Day DL||Strained right lat|
|May 04, 2013||Yunel Escobar||Day-to-Day||Left hand contusion|
|April 27, 2013||Jose Molina||Day-to-Day||Knee|
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) -- Elliot Johnson has some fond memories of his years with the Rays. None might have been sweeter than his return to Tampa Bay with the Kansas City Royals on Thursday night.
Johnson had a three three-run homer for his second hit of an eight-run sixth inning, leading the surging Royals to a 10-1 victory over the Rays.
"It's hard to describe the first time back," he said. "I wish everyone would get a chance to understand what it's like and it's really hard even to put into words."
Traded to Kansas City by the Rays in February, Johnson led off the big inning with a single and chased Jeremy Hellickson (4-3) with his second homer of the season, both coming off Hellickson.
Johnson got his third hit of the game in the eighth inning and is 6 for 11 with four RBIs against his former team while batting .202 with three RBIs against every other team.
"When they came into our place, I had a good series there," Johnson said. "I wasn't really playing that well, and Ned (Yost) gave me some opportunities to play against them. I picked it up and today played well again. It's good to get them anyway you can, but it feels good to get them against them, of course. (Former Rays pitcher James) Shields said the same thing; he wishes he could pitch here."
"He gets fired up playing against these guys and he really helped us out today," said Eric Hosmer , who homered off Jake Odorizzi in the seventh.
Ervin Santana (5-5) gave up five hits and an unearned run in 7 2-3 innings.
The Royals, who have won eight of nine, set a franchise record by holding an opponent to three runs or fewer in a 12th straight game.
"Everything is going our way right now so we have to keep that up," Santana said.
Hellickson lost for the first time since April 25, giving up eight runs on 10 hits in 5 2-3 innings. He retired 15 of the 16 Royals he faced in the first five innings.
"He was locating his fastball and his changeup really kept us off stride," said Kansas City bench coach Chino Cadiha, who was acting manger while Yost attended his daughter's wedding in Georgia. "I guess we figured it out in the sixth, and here we go."
Johnson led off the sixth inning of a scoreless game with his first hit. After Alcides Escobar 's double, Alex Gordon drove in the first run with Kansas City's third straight hit. Three more singles and an RBI double by Miguel Tejada preceded Johnson's homer to give the Royals an 8-0 lead. In all the Royals sent 11 men to the plate in the inning.
"I just fell behind to Elliot, the first batter of the inning, and just couldn't stop it after that," Hellickson said. "I'm pretty frustrated. It wasn't a fun game. Eight runs, it's unacceptable."
It was the Royals' biggest inning of the season, exceeding the seven runs they scored in the third inning at Los Angeles on May 15.
Gordon had two hits in raising his road batting average to .381, compared to .231 at home.
Matt Joyce had two hits for the Rays, who have lost four of five.
NOTES: The Rays optioned Odorizzi to Triple-A Durham after the game and took pitcher Alex Cobb off the bereavement list. ... Tampa Bay LHP David Price (strained left triceps) threw 54 pitches over three innings in a simulated game. The AL Cy Young Award winner could rejoin the rotation in late June or early July. ... Rays 3B Evan Longoria got his second break from playing on the artificial turf in five games, getting the start as the DH. Kelly Johnson made his first start this season at third in place of Longoria. ... RHP Nate Adcock , designated for assignment by the Royals on June 6, was claimed on waivers by Arizona. He was optioned to Triple-A Reno. ... Tampa Bay LHP Matt Moore (8-2) looks to stop a two-game skid, in which he allowed 15 runs, in Friday night's game with the Royals. RHP Luis Mendoza (1-3) will start for Kansas City.