(SportsNetwork.com) - Jason Vargas tries to keep the Kansas City Royals atop the American League Central on Wednesday when they attempt to complete a three-game sweep of the Texas Rangers at Kauffman Stadium.
Kansas City bounced back from two losses to Cleveland over the weekend to narrowly take the first two games of this set. On Tuesday an RBI single from Salvador Perez in the bottom of the eighth inning proved to be the difference in the Royals' 2-1 win.
Norichika Aoki doubled twice and knocked in the other run for the Royals, who remained atop the AL Central by a half-game over Detroit, which won again at Cleveland on Tuesday.
Jason Frasor (4-1) retired two batters in the eighth inning, while Aaron Crow tossed a scoreless ninth to earn his third save. Jeremy Guthrie went the first seven innings, giving up eight hits and one run.
"I knew if we got to the ninth with the lead, it'd be Aaron," Royals manager Ned Yost said. Usual closer Greg Holland was unavailable after pitching three consecutive days.
Alex Rios picked up three hits and Dan Robertson drove in the lone run for the Rangers, who have dropped four straight.
Michael Kirkman (0-1) was charged with the lead run while recording two outs in the eighth. Derek Holland pitched well in his season debut, allowing a run on six hits while fanning six.
"It's like Opening Day for me," Holland said.
Now the Royals turn to Vargas, who has lost four of his last six decisions. Vargas lost his second straight start on Friday to the Indians, as he allowed four runs and 10 hits in six innings. He also struck out five without walking a batter, but fell to 10-7 on the year to go along with a 3.27 ERA.
"I wish it could've worked out better, but they were getting hits that were falling in and putting those runs on the board those first three innings," Vargas said.
Vargas is 4-8 in 20 games (18 starts) versus the Rangers with a 4.28 ERA.
Texas, meanwhile, hands the ball to righty Nick Tepesch, who is 4-8 with a 4.44 ERA. Tepesch struggled in Houston in his last appearance, as he allowed two runs and five hits with three walks in just 4 1/3 innings.
He's gone at least six innings in 11-of-17 starts, surrendering more than four runs three times.
Tepesch, who was born in Kansas City and attended the University of Missouri, is 0-1 in two starts against the Royals and has pitched to a 4.26 ERA in those outings.
The Royals won two of three games in Texas a few weeks ago (Aug. 22-24).