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Streaking Royals face stiff test versus A's

(SportsNetwork.com) - The Kansas City Royals eye an eighth straight win and perhaps the top spot in the American League Central on Monday when they begin a four-game set with the Oakland Athletics at Kauffman Stadium.

Kansas City found itself eight games back of division-leading Detroit back on July 21, but has won 15 of 18, including the last seven after a three-game sweep of San Francisco, to move just a half game back of the Tigers.

Should they win again on Monday and a Detroit loss in Pittsburgh, the Royals would be in first place by themselves this late in a season for the first time since August 29, 2003.

"I like the way we're playing," Kansas City manager Ned Yost said. "I've got a lot of confidence in those guys. I've had a lot of confidence in them even when they weren't producing like they're doing now because I knew it would come somewhere down the road."

Kansas City will rely on righty Yordano Ventura in the opener. The 23-year-old right-hander won his second straight start on Wednesday in Arizona, as he held the D-backs to a pair of runs and struck out eight in six innings to run his record to 9-8, while lowering his ERA to 3.47.

"I didn't have a feel for my breaking ball or my offspeed [pitches], but I kept trying to throw it to try to get in a rhythm with it," Ventura said. "It was just one of those days when I didn't really have a feel for it."

Oakland, meanwhile, will counter with a pretty impressive young hurler of its own in 24-year-old righty Sonny Gray, who is 12-5 with a 2.87 ERA, but has lost his last two starts. Gray was awful on Wednesday against Tampa Bay, as he was tagged for seven runs (6 earned) in just 4 1/3 innings.

It's only the second time in his young career that he has lost back-to-back games.

"When you put your team in a hole like that, it puts a lot more pressure on the offense and it's harder to climb out of," Gray said. "That's just tough to do, especially when the other team is scoring so many runs early in the game."

Oakland stretched its lead in the American League West to four over the weekend, but was denied a sweep in its series with the Minnesota Twins, as it dropped a 6-1 decision in Sunday's four-game finale.

Kansas City took two of three from the A's earlier this month.

08/11 10:48:00 ET

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Scoreboard
Local
Final
ATL 117
CHA 114
8:00pm Tonight
WIN
CAR
 
8:07pm Tonight
KAN
SFG
Final
CLE 107
CHI 98
Final
WAS 84
NOP 88
Final
ATL 117
CHA 114
Final
NYK 107
MIL 120
Final
BRK 99
PHI 88
Final
DAL 108
MEM 103
Final
SAN 106
SAC 99
8:00pm Tonight
MIA
HOU
 
8:00pm Tonight
MIN
IND
 
8:00pm Tonight
OKC
UTA
 
9:00pm Tonight
DEN
POR
 
10:00pm Tonight
PHO
LAL
 
10:30pm Tonight
GSW
LAC
 
8:00pm Tonight
LALAF
ARKST
 
Final
EDM 3
TAM 2
 
7:00pm Tonight
NJD
NYR
 
7:00pm Tonight
BOS
SJS
 
7:00pm Tonight
NYI
TOR
 
7:30pm Tonight
MON
DET
 
8:00pm Tonight
NAS
ARI
 
8:00pm Tonight
WIN
CAR
 
8:30pm Tonight
CHI
PHI
 
8:30pm Tonight
DAL
VAN
 
9:00pm Tonight
COL
FLA
 
9:00pm Tonight
CAL
TAM
 
Final
PIT 30
HOU 23