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KC@OAK: Guthrie fans six over six scoreless frames

On Thursday, Jeremy Guthrie and the Royals will aim for their first series sweep since June 15 when they square off against the D-backs.

Kansas City claimed the first two games of the series in Arizona, pushing its winning streak to three games. The Royals have now won six of seven, and with a 4-3 triumph Wednesday, ensured five straight series victories.

Guthrie looks to build off of a bounceback performance in his last outing.

The right-hander shut out a lethal Athletics lineup in six innings and led Kansas City to a 1-0 victory. He allowed just three hits and two walks and struck out six.

Raul Ibanez sparked the one-run win a game-winning home run. The Royals are 15-21 in games decided by a run this season.

"It's not something we've done a whole bunch lately," Guthrie said after the game. "A 1-0 win, we should be very excited. It means you pitched well, you played good defense and you got a big hit from somebody, and tonight it was Raul. 1-0 wins are big wins."

His blanking of Oakland last Friday came after a disastrous month of July. Guthrie surrendered 22 runs in his 19 2/3 innings that month, for a 10.07 ERA.

Vidal Nuno will get the start for Arizona on Thursday.

Nuno was traded from the Yankees for former Brandon McCarthy on July 6.

In five starts since the trade, Nuno owns a 3.07 ERA, compared to the 5.42 figure he posted in 14 starts with New York.

Royals: Aoki getting comfortable in AL
Right fielder Nori Aoki seems to be getting more into the swing of things for the Royals since coming off the disabled list from a groin strain on July 11.

After belting his first career grand slam on Tuesday night, Aoki had an on-base percentage of .364 compared to .326 when he was injured and an OPS of .752 compared to .651. Dropped from the leadoff spot for a time, he's reclaimed that role.

Manager Ned Yost believes it just took time for Aoki, obtained in a trade from Milwaukee, to adjust to American League after two years in the National League.

"I think it has to do more with comfort -- knowing the league better, knowing the pitchers better. We've gone around a couple times now and he's got a pretty good idea," Yost said.

"When he came here, he didn't know any of these guys. He was asking a thousand questions on each pitcher and really watching video. Now he's got a better understanding of what they're doing and what they have."

D-backs: Pennington returns, plays third
Cliff Pennington returned from the disabled list Thursday, and played third base, a position relatively new to him.

Pennington, primarily a middle infielder before a sprained left thumb shelved him for more than two months, made his first start of the season at third base.

He finished 2-for-5 with a pair of singles from the two-hole.

Before the game, Pennington didn't seem perturbed with the unusual assignment.

"I just want to play," he said. "If Miggy goes down, I'll put the catcher's gear on.

"It's definitely a new position. There's no denying that. … But at the same time, it's still a ground ball."

Worth noting
• When Alex Gordon passed 1,000 hits to rank 10th on the Royals' all-time list, he edged closer to ninth-ranked Fred Patek, 1,036, and eighth-ranked Joe Randa, 1,084.

• Mike Moustakas drove in all four runs Wednesday for the Royals.

• Aaron Hill went 1-for-3 with a walk Wednesday, collecting his first hit from the three-hole this season. He was 0-for-11 in his other three starts there.

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