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MIA@KC: Chen fans six over seven scoreless innings

Since returning to Washington in 2005, the Nationals have played 1,421 games. They won a National League East title and led the Majors with 98 wins in 2012. But they have never played a game at Kauffman Stadium.

That will change on Friday, when the Nationals open a three-game set in Kansas City. It will be the first meeting between the two teams since 2010, when Washington took two of three from the Royals at Nationals Park.

In many ways, the Nationals and Royals are similar teams heading in opposite directions. After jumping out to a 19-5 record out of the All-Star break, the Royals have lost eight of their last 10 -- including five straight -- and they have fallen seven games back of the second Wild Card in the American League.

"They've all been out of their approach here lately, swinging at pitchers' pitches instead of sitting and waiting for a pitch that they can drive," Royals manager Ned Yost said of his club's slumping offense.

The Nationals, meanwhile, matched their best road winning streak of the season on Thursday with their third straight victory. Washington, which beat the Cubs, 5-4, in 13 innings, is still clinging to a thread of playoff hopes.

"We need things firing on all cylinders," outfielder Scott Hairston said. "I think we have the talent, [both] pitching and hitting, and once we all put that together, we're a dangerous team."

Friday's series opener will feature a pair of stellar left-handers in Washington's Gio Gonzalez and Kansas City's Bruce Chen. Gonzalez is winless in each of his six starts since the All-Star break, but he has allowed two runs or fewer four times.

Chen is coming off his first loss, when he allowed six earned runs in 5 1/3 innings against the Tigers. However, three of those runs were the result of Miguel Cabrera, who hit a bomb on Chen's very first pitch to him.

"It was just a good fastball. I was a little up and it was away, and he shouldn't be pulling it -- but he pulled it," Chen said. "When he's on, I don't think you can throw anything around him. You know he'll hit it."

Nationals: Moore sharp since return
Manager Davey Johnson hinted on Wednesday that first baseman Tyler Moore could see more steady playing time the rest of this season, and it's easy to see why.

After a slow start led to his demotion in June, Moore hit .318 with 10 homers and 46 RBIs in 45 games at Triple-A Syracuse. Since being recalled on Saturday, he has made three starts -- including Thursday -- and is 6-for-12 with an RBI and two runs.

"I was fortunate to go down to Triple-A and find everything," Moore said. "I was able to get back in the groove. … It was more of a timing thing. I was just starting late all year, and then once you get some at-bats, you kind of figure that out and say, 'OK, that was the problem.' So it's good. I found it and I'm blessed to be back up here."

Royals: Yost tweaks lineup
In search of offense, Yost re-shuffled the Royals' batting order before Thursday's game against the White Sox. Alex Gordon -- the club's RBI leader -- was back in the leadoff spot, and Eric Hosmer -- the leader in average -- batted second.

"There's not a lot I can do," Yost said. "These guys have to go out there and produce, but the one thing I can do is put them in a different spot, give them a different mindset and see if that gets them going."

In the past 10 games, the Royals are hitting just .129 with runners in scoring position.

Worth noting
• Hairston's go-ahead three-run homer against the Cubs on Wednesday was rare. According to Elias Sports Bureau, Hairston became the first big leaguer to hit a go-ahead pinch-hit home run against a team that he played for earlier in the same season since Tony Batista on Sept. 20, 2001. Batista did it as a member of the Orioles, against the Blue Jays.

• Chen is 23-11 in August in his career. His .676 winning percentage during the month ranks seventh among active pitchers with at least 40 starts.

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