Bruce Chen is making his own contributions on the mound.
Butler looks to continue his tear at the plate and Chen goes for another strong start as the Royals again attempt to capitalize on the struggling Miami Marlins on Tuesday night.
Winning 17 of 20 has made Kansas City (62-54) a factor in the AL wild-card race after owning a 45-51 record on July 22.
Butler is certainly impacting the surge, hitting .372 in 26 games after owning a .263 average over his first 50.
"The first half was definitely a grind for me. I was kind of hit or miss," Butler said. "I was doing my same stuff, but wasn't getting the results. I've been feeling good ever since the second half started. I'm just taking confidence from each day and letting it build."I've always been better in the second half throughout my career."
Butler is hitting .338 after the All-Star break over the past two seasons. He continued his recent success with a solo homer for one of his two hits during Monday's 6-2 win over Miami to open this three-game series.
The designated hitter is 12 for 25 with two homers, four RBIs and six runs during a six-game hitting streak.
Chen (5-0, 1.79 ERA) is also making a difference for the Royals, going 2-0 with a 1.14 ERA in five starts since being inserted in the rotation.
"I'm feeling comfortable and I'm feeling good, but most importantly, I'm doing everything I can to help this team win," Chen told the team's official website. "I'm just glad that I'm able to do it as a starter and I'm glad I'm able to do it so far so well. I just want to keep it going so I can help this team any way I can."
The 36-year-old left-hander certainly helped Thursday, when he tossed 7 2-3 scoreless innings in a 5-1 win over AL East-leading Boston.
"He's just been as sharp as a tack since he came back, even in his first game," manager Ned Yost said. "He continues to have that consistency every time out."
Chen will face the Marlins (44-73) for the first time since 2006, and his last start against them came in 2001.
Miami will counter Chen with 21-year-old phenom Jose Fernandez (8-5, 2.58 ERA), who has the team hoping for a bright future.
Fernandez, though, is coming off a shaky performance in Thursday's 5-4, 10-inning loss at Pittsburgh. The right-hander allowed two runs with five strikeouts and four walks in five innings. He was 3-0 with a 1.55 ERA and 39 strikeouts in 29 innings over his previous four games.
"Eventually the league is going to adjust to Fernandez and he's going to have to adjust," manager Mike Redmond told the team's official website.
Fernandez seems in need of an adjustment on the road, where he's 3-5 with a 3.94 ERA in 11 starts compared to 5-0 with a 1.39 ERA in 11 at home.
He's lost both his road starts in interleague play, surrendering 11 runs and 11 hits with eight strikeouts and five walks in 8 1-3 innings.
The Marlins, who stranded 11 runners Monday, are hitting .202 with 19 runs while dropping eight of nine games.
"We don't have the offense to cover up any mistakes and right now we're making too many mistakes," Redmond said.
|July 26, 2013||Kevin Slowey||15-Day DL||Right forearm discomfort|
|July 23, 2013||Marcell Ozuna||15-Day DL||Torn left thumb ligament|
|June 25, 2013||Justin Ruggiano||Day-to-Day||Sore left shoulder|
|June 09, 2013||Chris Coghlan||15-Day DL||Right calf irritation|
|June 09, 2013||Casey Kotchman||60-Day DL||Strained left oblique|
|May 27, 2013||Alex Sanabia||60-Day DL||Right groin discomfort|
|Kansas City Royals|
|August 11, 2013||Miguel Tejada||15-Day DL||Strained right calf|
|August 09, 2013||Lorenzo Cain||15-Day DL||Strained left oblique|
|August 04, 2013||Salvador Perez||7-Day DL||Concussion|
|August 04, 2013||David Lough||Day-to-Day||Right quad tightness|
|August 04, 2013||Salvador Perez||7-Day DL||Concussion|
|July 28, 2013||Chris Getz||15-Day DL||Left knee sprain|
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -- Marlins prodigy Jose Fernandez simply smiled when he was asked about leaving Tuesday night's start against Kansas City in the seventh inning with the game still scoreless.
Best not to rankle the skipper by saying something amiss.
Besides, the young right-hander had a good seat to watch Christian Yelich single home the go-ahead run with one out in the 10th inning, giving the Marlins a 1-0 victory.
"I like to pitch and everybody knows it," Fernandez said. "I like to compete. I would have loved to stay out there pitching. I was feeling really strong today."
Fernandez was matched by wily Royals veteran Bruce Chen , each of them allowing just three hits before they turned over the game to their bullpens.
It continued to extra innings before Kansas City reliever Kelvin Herrera (4-6) brushed the jersey of the Marlins' Jake Marisnick with a pitch in the 10th. Marisnick stole second and then scored on Yelich's single through the right side of the infield, his third hit of the game.
"Try to get a good pitch to hit and drive Jake in from second," Yelich said. "It was hard to score runs for both teams. I knew if we could push one in we'd have a good chance to win."
Chad Qualls (3-1) earned the win, while Steve Cishek survived a single in the bottom half of the 10th for his 25th save. Cishek has converted 20 in a row, the third-best streak in the majors behind the Braves' Craig Kimbrel and the Royals' Greg Holland .
The Royals, who had won 17 of their last 20, were trying to wrap up their eighth consecutive series victory. They'll try again in the finale on Wednesday afternoon.
"Bruce was phenomenal. Fernandez was everything we had heard he was and seen on video," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "It was just an old-fashioned pitching duel."
Indeed, the game began as a matchup between a 36-year-old, soft-tossing junkballer who began the season in the bullpen and a 21-year-old, flame-throwing phenom who defected from Cuba.
Chen and Fernandez matched each other pitch-for-pitch most of the night.
The Royals left-hander allowed a leadoff single to Yelich but didn't give up another hit until the fourth. His beguiling 84 mph fastball - the term "fastball" applied loosely - helped Chen strike out six batters and deal with three walks over his seven innings.
Otherwise, the Marlins spent most of the night popping balls into shallow center field, trudging back to the dugout and wondering why someone who couldn't throw harder than some Little League pitchers kept baffling them with his dizzying array of floating changeups.
He lowered his ERA to 0.94 since replacing Luis Mendoza in the Royals rotation.
"I think I got a couple hits off Bruce somewhere along the way," said Marlins manager Mike Redmond , who retired as a player after the 2010 season. "Hey, a testament to him, he's still out there making pitches and he shut us down. I hadn't seen him pitch for a long time, but he did a great job against us tonight, and he's done a great job for them."
The problem for the Royals? Fernandez has been even better for the Marlins.
He allowed a single in the first and another in the second, but then retired 13 straight before a leadoff walk in the seventh. The Royals managed to get runners on first and second with two outs before George Kottaras flied out to center to end the inning.
It was the most trouble that Fernandez was in all night.
"He throws everything for strikes," Kottaras said. "He's got all those plus pitches to work with. He was attacking the zone. We were falling behind. He had us at his mercy for a while."
Fernandez didn't pick up the win, of course. He had to watch from the bench after Redmond pulled him from the game. But he still managed his sixth straight start without a defeat.
"It's a baseball game," he said, smiling again. "We won."
NOTES: Marlins OF Chris Coghlan (right calf nerve irritation) will begin a rehab assignment Wednesday at Class A Jupiter. He plans to play five innings at 3B. ... Royals 3B Mike Moustakas (left calf strain) was held out of the lineup. An MRI exam confirmed the strain and he's day to day, Yost said. ... Kansas City RHP Ervin Santana will start against Miami RHP Jacob Turner in Wednesday's series finale.