Devil Rays/ Royals Preview 6/3

J.P. Howell will start on Sunday for Tampa Bay

J.P. Howell made his major league debut with the Royals in 2005, going 3-5 with a 6.19 ERA in 15 starts for them. Last season, Howell went 1-3 with a 5.10 ERA in eight starts for the Devil Rays, and this will be his first career start against his former team.

The Kansas City Royals look to continue their strong road play when they try to win the first three games of their four-game series with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays on Sunday.

Although the Royals have the worst home record in the majors at 9-21, they've won consecutive games in Tampa Bay (22-31) after a 9-4 victory on Saturday. Kansas City has scored 13 runs in two games in Tropicana Field - the same number of runs it scored during its current seven-game losing skid at Kauffman Stadium.

The Royals (21-35) have not won three straight games in a single series all season, but have won eight of their last 10 road games.

"We get alive when we're not at home," left fielder Emil Brown said. "We play in some hitters' parks sometimes. At home, a lot of our balls get knocked down, or balls that are usually hits are outs. As long as we stay away from 'The K' we're all right."

Brown went 3-for-5 with a three-run homer on Saturday, after going 2-for-3 with an RBI double in Friday's 4-1 victory in the series opener.

Tony Pena extended his career-high hitting streak to 11 games with an RBI infield single during Kansas City's four-run second inning, and finished 2-for-4. He's batting .385 (15-for-39) during his run, raising his batting average 30 points to .270.

While the Royals have been finding success in Tampa Bay, Sunday starter Scott Elarton (1-1, 7.65 ERA) is mired in a horrible losing streak against the Devil Rays.

Elarton has been saddled with a loss in all five of his career starts against Tampa Bay, posting a 9.13 ERA in those games. In his two starts against the Devil Rays last season, he gave up seven runs and 10 walks in 11 innings.

Elarton is also coming off his worst start of the season, giving up seven runs, six hits and four walks in five innings in a 9-1 loss to Baltimore on Monday. The right-hander served up a grand slam to the Orioles, and has allowed six homers in just 20 innings over four starts this season.

The Devil Rays have lost two straight, and nine of their last 13 overall.

Third baseman Akinori Iwamura went 2-for-4 with an RBI on Saturday, and is 8-for-17 (.471) in his five games since coming off the disabled list with a right oblique strain.

Howell went 3-5 with a 3.96 ERA in 11 minor league starts, and has given up just two runs in 18 innings in his last three.

"Before, when I was down in the minors, I think I was focused on getting to the big leagues," Howell told the team's official Web site. "This time I think I was more focused on my game. And I think I did get better."

The 24-year-old left-hander made his major league debut with the Royals in 2005, going 3-5 with a 6.19 ERA in 15 starts for them. Last season, Howell went 1-3 with a 5.10 ERA in eight starts for the Devil Rays, and this will be his first career start against his former team.

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