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Royals set for Central clash vs. Tigers

(SportsNetwork.com) - The Kansas City Royals can send a message to the Detroit Tigers this weekend, as the American League Central front-runners close the first half of the season with a four-game series at Kauffman Stadium.

Detroit heads into the matchup holding a 4 1/2-game edge on the Royals, who have lost all three home games they have played against the Tigers this season. In fact, Detroit is 6-3 versus Kansas City on the year.

"It's going to be a big series," said Detroit starter Drew Smyly. "Hopefully we can end on a strong note as a team and go in there and take care of business."

The Tigers won for the 14th time in 19 games on Wednesday, as Max Scherzer outdueled Zack Greinke and Detroit pulled out a 4-1 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Scherzer (11-3) allowed just one run on four hits over seven innings and struck out seven, while winning his third straight decision.

"I have a lot of respect for what the Dodgers have been able to do, especially Greinke," Scherzer said. "When I can have a good game and go out there and help my team to win in a game like this against the quality of an opponent we were facing, that makes me feel good."

Smyly has lost four of his last five starts and has looked bad his last two times out. He lost to Tampa on Friday, surrendering five runs and seven hits in 5 1/3 frames to fall to 4-8 on the year to go along with a 3.89 ERA. He had been tagged for four runs in just 2 1/3 innings in his previous outing.

Smyly has faced the Royals 12 times (4 starts) and is 3-1 with a 2.16 ERA.

Kansas City, meanwhile, will counter with righty Jeremy Guthrie, who is 5-7 with a 4.10 ERA. Guthrie was also battered his last time out, as Cleveland rocked him for six runs and 11 hits in four innings on Saturday.

"They just hit everything," Guthrie said. "I kept the ball down for the most part. A lot of singles -- they just kept hitting it where we weren't, and they just kept piling up."

Guthrie beat Smyly and the Tigers back on June 18 and is 8-5 lifetime versus them with a 3.92 ERA in 19 games (16 starts).

Kansas City managed a series win over the Tampa Bay Rays on Wednesday, as Salvador Perez's go-ahead three-run homer in the ninth inning proved to be the difference in the Royals' 5-4 win.

"That's the difference between 4 1/2 games back compared to 5 1/2 games back," manager Ned Yost said. "Definitely nice to have a little momentum going home."

Aaron Crow (4-1) tossed a scoreless eighth inning to earn the win. Starter Yordano Ventura gave up four runs on five hits and four walks in five innings.

Royals outfielder Alex Gordon's availability in this series is up in the air due to a sprained wrist.

"We'll get him back to Kansas City and have our hand specialist check him, and see where we're at," Yost said.

07/10 10:51:22 ET

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