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Preview: Tigers at Royals

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

The Kansas City Royals aim for a much-needed series sweep when they host the Detroit Tigers on Sunday. After losing five straight before the All-Star break, Kansas City has revived its hopes of getting back in the playoff picture by taking a pair of nail-biters to begin the set. Ervin Santana pitched the Royals to a 1-0 win Friday and they got the best of Justin Verlander in a 6-5 victory Saturday.

The back-to-back wins have pulled Kansas City to within six games of the first-place Tigers in the American League Central. The Royals have won five of seven meetings this season after going 12-24 against Detroit over the last two years. The Tigers have not lost the season series since 2008.

TV: 2:10 p.m. ET, FSN Detroit, FSN Kansas City

PITCHING MATCHUP: Tigers RH Doug Fister (7-5, 4.02 ERA) vs. Royals RH James Shields (4-6, 3.21)

Fister was 0-1 with a 7.66 ERA over a four-start stretch before allowing two runs in six innings to defeat Texas in his final start before the All-Star break. He has surrendered seven home runs over his last six outings after serving up only two in his first 13. The 29-year-old gave up three runs and nine hits in eight innings at Kansas City on June 10 and is 2-4 with a 3.88 ERA in nine games (eight starts) versus the Royals.

Shields has gone nine starts without a loss but has only two wins in that stretch, failing to get through six innings in three of his last five appearances. He has allowed nine runs in 10 1/3 innings over his last two home starts. However, the veteran right-hander limited Detroit to just two runs in seven innings at home June 12 and is 5-1 in 11 career starts against the Tigers.

WALK-OFFS

1. Tigers 3B Miguel Cabrera is 14-for-32 with six extra-base hits against Shields.

2. Detroit has lost two straight for the first time since a three-game slide June 29-July 1.

3. Kansas City has gone 10 games without committing an error, one shy of the team record.

PREDICTION: Royals 5, Tigers 4

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/thomson-reuters/130721/preview-tigers-at-royals