Athletics-Royals Preview

August was unkind to both the Oakland Athletics and the Kansas City Royals. With the clubs now playing each other, one was bound to start September on a high note.

After opening September with a win, the Royals seek to clinch their first series in exactly a month on Wednesday as they continue their three-game home set with the Athletics.

Kansas City (58-79) and Oakland (63-75) each amassed 20 losses in August, with the Royals winning a league-low seven times and the A's finishing only slightly better at 10-20.

On Tuesday, Kansas City won for only the third time in 15 games, beating the A's 5-2 behind Billy Butler's homer and four RBIs. Butler is 16-for-32 with three doubles, three homers and eight RBIs during an eight-game hitting streak. In his previous eight contests, he had been 5-for-30 with three RBIs.

"Just going with the pitches, hitting the ball where it's pitched," Butler told the Royals' official Web site. "That's all there is to it. I got away from that."

With a win Wednesday, the Royals can clinch their first series since taking two of three from the Chicago White Sox from Aug. 1-3. It would also mark their first home series win over the Athletics since taking two of three July 23-25, 1999.

The A's, meanwhile, have now lost consecutive games after winning three of their previous four.

While his team has struggled through the season's second half, Oakland starter Dana Eveland ( 8-8, 4.21 ERA) has led the A's to victory in three of his last four outings.

The left-hander limited Minnesota to two runs and five hits over seven innings in Thursday's 3-2 home win, although he didn't factor in the decision.

Eveland won his lone career start versus the Royals on April 20, holding them to a run and three hits in 5 2-3 innings of a 7-1 home victory.

He'll be trying to keep Oakland from losing five straight meetings with the Royals for the first time since Sept. 14, 1998-May 20, 1999, when all of those losses occurred in Kansas City.

Eveland will be opposed by Brian Bannister (7-14, 5.75), who dropped each of his five August starts and is 0-8 with a horrendous 7.99 ERA in 11 outings since beating Colorado at home on June 23.

On Wednesday, the right-hander allowed the go-ahead run after a routine pop-up went off the heel of his glove in a 3-2 home loss to Texas. He gave up two earned runs and six hits in 6 2-3 innings.

Bannister is 1-1 with a 3.96 ERA in four career starts versus the Athletics, although each of those outings has come in Oakland.

A's first baseman Daric Barton went 3-for-3 with a home run, a triple and both Oakland RBIs in Tuesday's loss. Barton is 15-for-36 (.417) with three homers and eight RBIs over his last 11 games to raise his season average 20 points to .223. He is 8-for-17 (.471) in four games versus the Royals this season.