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KC@BAL: Guthrie sets Royals team record

The Astros will host the Royals in a battle of struggling teams at Minute Maid Park on Monday.

For Houston, however, manager Bo Porter is encouraged by what he has seen from his team recently. The Astros just narrowly missed a split on their six-game trip through Detroit and Pittsburgh with a 1-0 loss Sunday.

"These guys are doing a tremendous job," Porter said. "That's the one thing about baseball is it's such a long season, it's 162 games, that there's going to be highs, there's going to be lows, but at the end of the day, you have to put everything aside and continue to play and continue to grind each and every game."

For the Royals, the problem has been a lack of production from the offense.

Kansas City has scored more runs than only two teams in the American League this season entering Sunday and scored two or fewer runs in five of its last eight games.

"Just wait it out; it turns," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "It just takes one hit. Don't ask me how. It goes in cycles for some reason.

"When it does kick in, we'll be in pretty good shape."

That's because Kansas City has quietly become one of the better rotations in the Majors, sporting a staff ERA of 3.74, good for fifth in the Majors entering Sunday.

"We definitely need to score runs the way the pitching has been -- it's been amazing," center fielder Lorenzo Cain said. "So we definitely got to do our part as an offense and start getting it done."

The Royals will try to get it going against Dallas Keuchel, who is looking for his first win of the season in his third start of the year.

Last time out, against Detroit, Keuchel allowed five runs, four earned, on seven hits and two walks in 5 2/3 innings.

He will be up against Jeremy Guthrie, who is coming off a loss against the Angels -- his first in 18 starts.

Guthrie allowed four solo home runs in that loss, giving up 11 hits and three walks in his seven innings.

"It was one of those nights when I just didn't have a good feel and wasn't able to execute pitches and got frustrated out there," Guthrie said afterward.

Astros: Singleton back to baseball shortly
Astros top prospect Jonathan Singleton is nearing the end of his 50-game suspension after violating the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program for a drug of abuse for the second time.

He will begin his season sometime next week at Class A Quad Cities before moving to Triple-A Oklahoma City, general manager Jeff Luhnow said Sunday.

Singleton was suspended Jan. 9 after testing positive for what he said later was marijuana.

The left-handed-hitting first baseman hit .284 with 21 homers and 79 RBIs in 131 games last year at Double-A Corpus Christi and was expected to push for playing time on the Major League club this year. The Astros acquired him and three other players from the Phillies in the Hunter Pence trade in 2011.

Luhnow did not have an exact date for Singleton's return, saying it would happen next week. He would most likely be eligible to return May 28, which would be the 51st game on Corpus Christi's schedule, and he was on its roster when suspended.

"Right now, it looks like we're going to send him to Quad Cities for a short period of time, and from there go to his next assignment, which will probably be Oklahoma City," Luhnow said. "Just give him a chance to play under the lights somewhere else, and Quad Cities is our newest affiliate and we love the ballpark and we love the management team, and it's a good opportunity.

"Whenever we have a chance to send a big leaguer, or close to a big league player there, it strengthens the bond between us and our affiliate."

• With the loss to the Pirates on Sunday, the Astros are 4-13 in May.

Royals: Cain reminded of injury-filled 2012 after nice grab
• Cain bumped into the center-field wall while making a catch on a long drive by the A's Derek Norris on Saturday night, and he was reminded of the time he ran into the wall last season.

During his fifth game of the season, Cain ran into the wall at O.co Coliseum and sustained a groin injury while making a spectacular catch. That was just the first of three leg injuries that limited him to 61 games last year.

"It was a rough season after that, to say the least," Cain said. "You definitely want to avoid those walls as much as you can, but sometimes you can't help it."

• The Royals have scored more than three runs in only four of their last 13 games, going 3-10 during that stretch.

Worth noting
• Guthrie's loss Tuesday halted his club mark for consecutive starts without a defeat at 18. With 10 wins over the span, he ended a victory short of another Royals record for number of wins without a loss, held by Paul Splittorff (Aug. 13, 1977, to April 22, 1978) and Rich Gale (June 17 to Aug. 23, 1980).

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