The Kansas City Royals continue pursuit of their first trip to the playoffs since 1985 when they host the San Francisco Giants on Friday in the opener of a three-game series. Kansas City defeated Arizona 6-2 on Thursday for its fourth straight victory - and 12th in its last 15 contests - to climb within 2 1/2 games of Detroit in the American League Central. The Royals, who have won five straight series, also moved one-half game ahead of three teams for the final wild card spot.San Francisco fell to 4-3 on its 10-game road trip with a 3-1 loss in Milwaukee on Thursday and leads Pittsburgh by one-half game in the National League wild card race while trailing first-place Los Angeles by 3 1/2 contests in the West. The Giants welcomed the return of center fielder Angel Pagan, who went 2-for-5 in his first game since missing 44 with a back injury and told reporters: "The good thing is, we're still in the fight. This is the time for us to get on a roll and finish strong.'' San Francisco's Madison Bumgarner is 9-2 with a 1.58 ERA away from home and opposes Jason Vargas, who lost in his return after recovering from an appendectomy.TV: 8:10 p.m. ET, CSN Bay Area (San Francisco), FSN Kansas CityPITCHING MATCHUP: Giants LH Madison Bumgarner (13-8, 3.21 ERA) vs. Royals LH Jason Vargas (8-5, 3.69)Bumgarner pitched a two-hitter and struck out 10 in a 9-0 victory over the Mets in New York on Sunday for his third straight road victory and second complete game of the season. "Fastball command is what set up that whole game for us," the 25-year-old North Carolina native told reporters after recording his second career shutout. "When you're feeling good on days like (Sunday), you can go after guys." Bumgarner, who is 4-4 with a 4.41 ERA in 10 interleague starts, has never faced Kansas City.Vargas allowed seven runs and seven hits in 4 1/3 innings of Kansas City's 8-3 loss at Oakland - his first start since July 8. The 31-year-old Californian had a perfect game through four innings - "Just vintage Vargas," manager Ned Yost told reporters - before the Athletics scored eight runs in the fifth with the help of some shoddy defense. Vargas, who yielded two runs in 20 first innings this year, is 4-3 with a 4.77 ERA in 10 home starts this season compared to a 2.56 ERA in 10 road turns.WALK-OFFS1. Royals DH Billy Butler is 9-for-16 in his last four games, raising his average 12 points to .276.2. San Francisco hasn't won a series (0-7) against a team better than .500 since winning three of four in St. Louis from May 29-June 1.3. Kansas City is 6-3 against San Francisco, with the last series occurring in 2008.PREDICTION: Giants 3, Royals 2