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NYY@MIN: Hughes gives up one earned run over seven

Another series against an American League Central team seems to bode well for the Yankees. Just not so much for that opponent.

As the Royals make the trip to Yankee Stadium this week, they will face the daunting task of taking on a team that has dominated their division. New York, coming off a series victory against the Orioles, is 14-3 against the AL Central, including a three-game sweep at Kauffman Stadium in May.

The Yankees outscored the Royals, 18-10, in that series.

But Kansas City has continued to stay afloat in the division, leading the Major Leagues with 28 comeback victories and 32 one-run games -- with a 15-17 record in them.

"Our record doesn't really show how good of a team we have, but I think we're getting closer to that .500 mark," closer Greg Holland said. "We're excited about hopefully having a good road trip to end that half before the All-Star break. We're not where we want to be, but we're in a good spot to play well on both sides, defensively and offensively."

George Kottaras has been one of those guys playing well offensively, as the catcher has a home run in each of his last three starts.

That Kansas City offense will be up against Yankees right-hander Phil Hughes, who has put together two consecutive strong starts as he tries to correct some of the issues that hurt him in this first half.

Hughes held the Rangers and Twins to a combined three runs on 11 hits in 15 innings. Against Minnesota on Tuesday, he allowed just one run while striking out three in the Yankees' 7-3 victory.

"They had a lot of lefties in the lineup, and I felt like I was able to get my fastball inside to those guys, for the most part," Hughes said. "I made a few critical pitches when I had to to get out of some jams, the offense did their job, and it was a good win."

Yankees: Heating up with the weather
After taking two of three from the Orioles over the weekend, the Yankees are 6-1 this month and haven't experienced a losing July in the last 20 seasons.

Their stretch of 19 straight winning records in the month -- a Major League record for July -- was snapped last year.

• Despite blowing a save Sunday, Mariano Rivera has converted 29 of his 31 save opportunities this year and reached the 25-save plateau for the 16th time in his career, extending his all-time record.

Royals: Guthrie takes the mound
Jeremy Guthrie will get the ball in Monday's opener, looking to improve on a 7-6 record and 4.29 ERA in 17 starts. He had a distracting start on Wednesday, with a two-hour, 37-minute rain delay, an injury delay and another 12-minute delay when the stadium lights went out at midnight.

Guthrie held the Indians scoreless through five innings before allowing back-to-back singles in the sixth and an inside-the-park home run when left fielder Alex Gordon crashed into the left-field wall. He gave up two more runs after the lighting delay and finished with a no-decision.

The right-hander is 4-9 against the Yankees with a 5.05 ERA in 17 games (15 starts). The last 17 came with the Orioles.

Worth noting
• The Royals are 3-3 so far in a key 20-game stretch that began on Tuesday with a series against the Indians and ends with four against the Orioles. The combined record of those five opponents entering Sunday was 44 games over .500.

• Hughes last faced the Royals in a May 10 win, but he allowed six runs on seven hits in 5 2/3 innings.

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