After losing seven straight games, the Royals have responded with four consecutive victories, with the last two coming against the Twins.
They will go for a series sweep Thursday with veteran lefty Bruce Chen on the mound. He will be opposed by right-hander Samuel Deduno.
Chen was originally scheduled to start Wednesday, but he was pushed back a day when the Royals recalled Danny Duffy from Triple-A Omaha. Duffy moved into the rotation and replaced Wade Davis, who was sent to Class-A Wilmington because its season will most likely end Monday, which would make him available to rejoin the Royals when the roster expands.
Chen moved into the rotation just before the All-Star break and has started eight games since then. He held opponents to a 0.93 ERA and a .144 average in six starts from July 12 to Aug. 13 but has fallen on some harder times since then, allowing a combined 13 runs in his last two starts.
The Royals jumped out to a 6-0 lead Friday against Washington, but the Nationals scored once in the third and seven times in the fourth, with six of the runs charged to Chen. It was his second straight losing decision.
"I felt like I had my pitches, but I can't say very much," Chen said after the game. "We were winning by six runs, and I shouldn't have let that happen. I tried my best, I lost the zone a little bit, I walked five guys, I tried to make good pitches and they kept fouling them off. I wasn't throwing good-quality pitches. They fouled it off, I walked a lot of people and I feel bad because I let my teammates down."
Deduno is coming off a decent start against the Indians on Friday, when he gave up one run on three hits and four walks over six innings. It was a good sign for the Twins, because he had struggled in his previous three starts and was diagnosed with biceps tendinitis.
"I thought he had more life on the ball," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "Breaking ball was sharper, and the changeup was definitely good. So he definitely had better stuff against a very good-hitting baseball team that puts the ball in play a lot."
Twins: Mauer continuing to improve after concussion
Twins catcher Joe Mauer started some light workouts Wednesday at Target Field and was feeling much better, general manager Terry Ryan said.
"He was doing some exercises," Ryan said. "He's moving around in there. He's doing some stretches and stuff -- at least he's active and so forth, feeling a little better."
Mauer went on the disabled list Aug. 20 after he was scratched before the Twins played Detroit. He is expected to meet with the media Thursday.
Royals: Moustakas may miss finale
Third baseman Mike Moustakas, who missed the first two games of the Twins series, may miss the third as well while he recovers from strep throat.
"It's a quick turnaround [for Thursday] and a very, very hot day," manager Ned Yost said. "Strep throat can really sap you to begin with, and we'll probably wait until we get to Toronto and it's a little more-climate controlled."
Moustakas missed Tuesday and Wednesday night's games with his illness. He has also been battling a calf problem since Aug. 12 and has only played six games since then.
• Royals catcher Salvador Perez has four home runs and 11 RBIs in his last four games.
• The Twins went 0-for-4 with runners in scoring position Wednesday and are hitting .226 (264-for-1168) on the season.
Kathleen Gier is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.