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Royals try to stay hot in Arlington

(SportsNetwork.com) - Hoping to put even more distance between themselves and the rest of the American League Central, the surprising Kansas City Royals hit the field at Globe Life Park in Arlington Saturday as they play the second of a three-game set versus the Texas Rangers.

Winners of four of the last five and seven of nine, the Royals find themselves in unfamiliar territory as the leaders in the AL Central, 2 1/2 games up on the Detroit Tigers heading into the weekend. It has been decades since Kansas City has made it to the postseason, but for the time being the squad appears poised to break that stretch of futility.

In the series opener last night, Josh Willingham and Billy Butler both went deep as the Royals picked up a 6-3 victory on the road. Lorenzo Cain also had three hits.

"Thirty-five games left. Definitely keep pouring it on, keep scoring runs, keep doing what we're doing," Cain said after the win. "Find a way to get in these playoffs any way possible."

Yordano Ventura was credited with the win as he permitted just a single run on four hits and three walks, fanning six, over six innings. Despite issuing a base-on-balls in the ninth, Greg Holland was credited with his 40th save of the campaign.

Holland is the first Kansas City pitcher since Dan Quisenberry in 1983-84 to have at least 40 saves in back-to-back seasons.

Texas starter Colby Lewis was saddled with the loss, his 11th, as he gave up four runs on six hits and two walks, striking out only two in six innings as his ERA rose to 5.54.

"I wasn't able to locate very well with the fastball today," said Lewis. "The curveball and changeup kind of saved me in the later innings, getting some strikes when I needed to and pitching through the sixth."

Now hitting .323, Adrian Beltre had two of his team's six hits, knocking in one run.

While Kansas City has become the darling of the AL Central, the Rangers have become not only the weakest team in the league, but the worst team in the majors entering play on Saturday with just 49 wins in 127 opportunities. Showing a run differential of minus-138, Texas is 27 games out of contention in the AL West, the deepest hole of any team in baseball.

Seeking just his second win since the start of July, Nick Tepesch steps back to the mound for the Rangers tonight. The right-hander, who won his first two decisions of 2014, has lost four of the last five and failed to earn a decision in his two most recent appearances.

On Sunday Tepesch made it through seven innings against the Angels at home, giving up two runs on six hits and four walks, striking out only one, but at least Texas came away with the 3-2 victory.

Now in just his second major league season, Tepesch has yet to earn a decision against Kansas City.

Tepesch is part of a staff that is 29th in baseball in ERA (4.77) and 30th in opponent batting average (.279).

As for the Royals, they have 12-year veteran Jeremy Guthrie seeking his 10th win of the season. The right-hander, who has a career record of 4-4 with a 3.82 ERA in 15 appearances versus Texas, is coming off his fourth win in five games as he topped Minnesota at Target Field last weekend.

Against the Twins, Guthrie surrendered four runs on five hits, including a pair of home runs, and a couple of walks, but he also struck out seven over as many innings as the Royals recorded a 12-6 triumph.

08/23 10:10:10 ET