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SD@SF: Erlin fans five over 6 2/3 solid frames

The Padres hope to get some big results from another left-hander on Tuesday, as Robbie Erlin takes the mound a day after Eric Stults pitched in the series opener.

The Padres liked the idea of having Stults and Erlin face the Royals, who entered the series hitting a collective .226 with a .287 on-base percentage against left-handed pitching. Kansas City did get to Stults for three runs in his 4 2/3 innings.

For Erlin, he'll try to win for the first time since April 9. Since then, he's 0-4 with a 7.15 ERA in his last four starts. And with 21-year-old pitching prospect Matt Wisler making his Triple-A debut on Monday for El Paso, there's a thought that Wisler might not be far off.

In his last start, Erlin allowed three runs on eight hits in 6 2/3 innings against the Giants, an outing where he allowed runs in each of the first two innings before settling down.

Erlin chalked up his early troubles to a lack of fastball command, something that's plagued him during bad starts this year. While he made an effort to keep his weight back on the mound and throw downhill, he felt himself opening up too early at times, leading to fastballs high in the zone.

"They were definitely elevated -- which is something that I worked on in between starts, making sure to get the ball down -- but it didn't really happen the first few innings," Erlin said. "That was pretty much the biggest adjustment."

Even though another lefty is starting, Royals manager Ned Yost said he'd likely stay with left-handed hitter Eric Hosmer at first base and keep Billy Butler on the bench.

Hosmer came through with his first home run to give the Royals a lead on Monday night although they lost, 6-5, in 12 innings. Hosmer had three hits and three RBIs.

Royals starter Jeremy Guthrie has pitched at Petco Park just one time before -- way back on June 20, 2007, when he was with Baltimore. He beat the Padres, 9-1, with eight innings of four-hit, nine-strikeout work. That was his only victory over the Friars against two losses.

Padres: Getting Blanks some at-bats:
Being a right-handed bat on the bench has certainly been hazardous to professional well-being of the two players who preceded Kyle Blanks on the Padres' roster -- Tommy Medica and Xavier Nady.

Because the Padres have only faced four left-handed starting pitchers in their first 32 games going into Monday, the team found it hard to get frequent at-bats for Medica, who was optioned to Triple-A on April 25, while Nady was designated for assignment on Monday.

Will that change for Blanks, who hit nine home runs in Triple-A before his promotion?

"He can play at first base and has the capability to play the outfield," manager Bud Black said. "He's in there tonight [Monday]."

Blanks got the start on Monday at first base and struck out in both of his at-bats before being taken out in an early double switch.

As for struggling first baseman Yonder Alonso, who is hitting .167, he didn't start for the second time in as many games. But he entered in the fifth inning and, after going hitless in three at-bats, got a bloop double that proved crucial in the 12th inning of a 6-5 walk-off win.

"We're hoping this helps him clear his mind," Black said.

Royals: Magic number no longer perfect
Scoring at least four runs in a game really did seem like a magic number for the Royals in the first month of the season.

For all of April, each occasion of four or more runs in the Kansas City column meant victory, 14-0 in fact.

The month of May has proved to be a different matter. In the first four games, the Royals scored fewer than four runs and each was a loss, making them 0-15 when held under four. And the first time they scored four or more in May? The magic failed. It was a 9-4 loss to the Tigers.

And again on Monday night, the Royals took a 4-3 lead over the Padres but, alas, couldn't hold it and lost, 6-5. So now they're 14-2 with their magic number.

Last year, reaching four runs in a game was definitely a good sign for the Royals. They were 64-13 when they did so, but were just 22-63 when they had three runs or fewer.

Worth noting
• The Padres' bullpen is now 6-0, the only 'pen in the Majors that has not suffered a loss. The relief corps also has a 1.76 ERA, best in the Majors.

• Right-hander Christian Binford, the Royals' 30th-round pick in the 2011 Draft, was named Carolina League Pitcher of the Week after throwing seven shutout innings for Class A Advanced Wilmington. MLB.com lists him as Kansas City's No. 12 prospect.

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