The Royals' offensive woes have showed up once again.
After winning five of eight games to start July, Kansas City has dropped three straight by a combined score of 19-5 and has failed to score in its last 16 innings, including Friday's 3-0 loss to the Indians in the series opener at Progressive Field.
After winning two of three from the Indians in the first series of the month, right-hander Jeremy Guthrie looks to help the Royals even this series at one game apiece when he faces Cleveland lefty Scott Kazmir on Saturday.
Guthrie endured rain delays in each of his previous two starts, but he's been the Royals' winningest starter with a career-best eight victories before the All-Star break. It's the second-highest first-half total by a Kansas City pitcher since 2004, when Zach Greinke won 10 games in 2009.
Guthrie was the Tribe's first-round pick in the 2002 First-Year Player Draft and he's 3-2 with a 5.72 ERA in eight games and six starts against them. He's 1-0 this season with a win on April 28 and a no-decision on July 3, when Jason Kipnis hit an inside-the-park home run and left fielder Alex Gordon was injured on the play.
Guthrie also worked around a two-hour, 47-minute rain delay before the game and an additional 12-minute delay when the lights went out at Kauffman Stadium. He held the Indians scoreless through the first five innings before losing momentum after the final delay -- finishing with five hits and five runs allowed in 6 1/3 innings.
Kazmir is holding steady in his first season back in the Major Leagues since 2010 -- going 4-0 in seven starts at home. The 29-year-old left-hander started his career with the Tampa Bay Rays in 2004 before he was sidelined by recurring injuries. He signed a Minor League deal with the Indians before the season with the chance to make the starting rotation. So far, he's shown he belongs there, going 4-4 with a 4.74 ERA.
"It's interesting because, the biggest thing -- and I said it from the first day of Spring Training -- was, would he be able to hold his stuff?" Indians manager Terry Francona said. "He came into spring and he looked really good. Ball came out of his hand so nice. And, to this point in the season, he's probably gotten stronger. And, that's exciting."
In his last start, Kazmir held the Tigers to two runs and four hits over 5 2/3 innings. He also had five strikeouts and three walks in a no-decision.
"He's the definition, and it's a good example, when you can pitch with your fastball and locate it, you can pitch in the big leagues with success," Francona said. "When you locate your fastball, you can have success. ... He's been pretty good. And, what's exciting is, he seems to be not only holding it, but getting better."
Royals: Chen excels in first start
Veteran lefty Bruce Chen pitched six scoreless innings, allowing just one hit in his first start of the season on Friday -- a no-decision in the Royals' loss.
Chen issued one walk and logged four strikeouts -- throwing 97 pitches, 60 for strikes. He was 3-0 with a 2.41 ERA in 19 relief outings before joining the starting rotation, replacing right-hander Luis Mendoza, who is now in a long relief role.
Indians: Rotation setting the pace
Over the last six games, Cleveland starters have posted a 1.64 ERA, allowing just seven runs in 38 1/3 innings and holding opponents to a .171 average (20-for-108).
Indians starter Corey Kluber held the Royals scoreless for 7 2/3 innings on Friday, allowing just three hits. He also had three walks and eight strikeouts.
• Royals reliever Donnie Joseph recorded his first Major League strikeout against Jason Kipnis in Friday's 3-0 loss.
• Pinch-hitter Michael Bourn belted a two-run double to cap a decisive three-run seventh inning on Friday.
Kathleen Gier is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.