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Royals try to avoid third straight loss in opener with Twins

(SportsNetwork.com) - The Kansas City Royals hope to avoid their longest losing streak in over a month on Tuesday night as the American League Central leaders open a three-game set with the last-place Minnesota Twins.

The Royals were bested 8-1 on Monday by the New York Yankees in a makeup game, giving them two losses in a row for the first time since July 27-29. They have not lost three consecutive contests since a four-game slide from July 18-21.

Mike Moustakas homered in Monday's defeat and James Shields allowed six runs over 6 2/3 innings.

"For the last month or so I've been pitching well, for the most part," said Shields. "I had a little hiccup today, but that's part of the game. A lot of good veteran hitters over there."

The Royals lead the Detroit Tigers by 1 1/2 games in the division and turn to Danny Duffy this evening.

The left-hander had a three-start winning streak stopped with a 5-2 setback at Colorado on Wednesday, though an error by third baseman Christian Colon may have cost him the win.

Duffy recorded the first two outs of the sixth inning before Colon's miscue extended the frame. Duffy, though, then gave up a single and a walk to load the bases before getting taken deep by Matt McBride for a go-ahead grand slam.

The 25-year-old was charged with five runs -- one earned -- over seven innings, striking out six while falling to 8-11 with a 2.53 earned run average on the year.

Duffy will face the Twins for the sixth time in 2014 and for the fourth time as a starter in that span. He is 2-0 with a 1.71 ERA versus Minnesota this year and recently beat the club on Aug. 15 after yielding two earned runs over 5 1/3 frames.

The Twins, who are 14 games behind the Royals in the standings, counter with the disappointing Ricky Nolasco, who has lost a pair of starts since coming off the disabled list.

Sidelined by an elbow issue, the 31-year-old righty yielded five runs over six innings in a setback to the Royals on Aug. 15, then allowed four runs in 6 2/3 frames of action against Cleveland on Wednesday.

"I made a lot of good pitches," said Nolasco following the loss to the Indians. "I would like to have a couple pitches back but overall I threw well."

Nolasco is now just 5-9 on the year with a 5.96 ERA and 2-2 lifetime versus the Royals with a 4.21 ERA.

The Twins hit the road following a 4-7 homestand. They lost the final two contests of that residency to Detroit, including Sunday's 13-4 loss.

Kyle Gibson was drilled for five runs over 4 2/3 frames in taking the loss.

"It was not his day ... it's a work in progress," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said of Gibson.

The Royals are 9-7 versus the Twins this season.

08/26 10:47:05 ET