CHICAGO (AP) — An impressive effort by Jeremy Guthrie didn’t just snap a nearly 10-weeklong drought for the Royals right hander on Wednesday night.
It may have been one of Kansas City’s best pitching performances of the season.
Guthrie earned his first victory since late May as he scattered five hits over eight innings in a 2-1 victory over the Chicago White Sox.
“That arguably could be the best-pitched game we had all year,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “He was in total control … locating his pitches down, changing speeds, great command of the strike zone (and) never really got into any spots where they really threatened.”
Guthrie (1-3) got his first win with the Royals and improved to 4-12 overall since arriving in a late July trade with Colorado. He struck out five and walked none.
His last victory was an 11-5 decision over Houston on May 31. He struggled through nine losses in his next 13 appearances.
“You want to win, but you can’t make it happen no matter how much you worry about it,” Guthrie said. “All you can do is just try to make better pitches and limit your runs. You give up zero runs you’ve got a better chance to win than if you give up six.
“I think that was more the focus than getting a win was can I go out there and give a good outing that gives us a chance to win.”
Solo home runs by Mike Moustakas and Salvador Perez provided all the runs for Kansas City.
Greg Holland gave up a run-scoring single in the bottom of the ninth but picked up his third consecutive save.
Jose Quintana (4-2) worked seven innings and gave up five hits. He walked two and struck out five.
Kansas City took two of three in the series. Chicago had won its last four series and five straight at home.
Kansas City took a 1-0 lead in the second on Moustakas’ 17th home run of the season. With two outs, the third baseman lined Quintana’s first pitch deep in to the seats in right.
Perez made it 2-0 with a two-out homer to right on a 2-0 pitch from Quintana. The home run was his sixth of the season.
Chicago had a runner in scoring position in the third when Alejandro De Aza singled with two outs and reached second on an errant pickoff throw from Perez to first baseman Eric Hosmer. But Gordon Beckham ended the inning with a fly to right.
The Royals tried to pad the lead in the sixth with runners on first and second with two outs, but Perez’ flied out to center to end the threat.
Guthrie had retired nine straight into the sixth inning when Beckham lined a two-out double down the left field line. Guthrie closed the inning by striking out Adam Dunn looking.
The left-handed Quintana had four straight no-decisions entering Wednesday. He last won on July 5, a 2-1 victory over Texas where he surrendered one earned run while striking out eight and walking just one.
White Sox reliever Jesse Crain worked the eighth while Brett Myers pitched a scoreless ninth. In the ninth, Holland gave up a one-out single to Dunn, who scored on A.J. Pierzynski’s two-out grounder up the middle.
“(Guthrie) was spotting the ball really well,” Pierzynski said. “He didn’t make a whole lot of mistakes. He kept the ball down really well, elevated when he wanted to and he had a good breaking ball.”
Yost said he was hoping for continued improvement from Guthrie, winless in his first three starts with a 7.71 ERA since arriving in the trade with the Rockies.
“(General manager) Dayton (Moore) said when we got him it might be four starts before he gets it going,” Yost said. “He’s gotten progressively better each start, was really good against Texas his last start and was absolutely spot on, spectacular tonight.”
Chicago first baseman Paul Konerko and outfielder Alex Rios were scratches on Wednesday. Rios had a sore back while Konerko suffered concussion symptoms in the aftermath of a first base play on Tuesday. Both will have two days off.
Ventura said he toyed with a lineup without Konerko, Rios, De Aza and third baseman Kevin Youkilis.
“We actually had a lineup without those guys in it,” he said. “It was creative, it was a fun morning.”
De Aza missed three games with back stiffness while Youkilis was out of Tuesday’s game with a sore right knee. Both were in Wednesday’s starting lineup.
NOTES: Dunn remained short of two career milestones. He went 1-for-4 and stands at 997 RBIs and 396 homers for his 12-year career. … Royals DH Billy Butler’s 22nd home run on Tuesday is a career-best. “He can drive the ball to all fields,” Yost said. “He hits all types of pitching. There are not a lot of hitters that can hit good pitching like he can hit.” … Light rainfall washed out batting practice but Wednesday’s first pitch went on as scheduled at 7:10 p.m. … The Royals head to Baltimore to open a scheduled four-game series and weren’t scheduled to arrive until around 2:30 a.m. The game is scheduled for 6:05 p.m. … Chicago’s homestand continues with Friday’s opener of a three-game series against Oakland. … The White Sox and Cardinals are the only teams in the majors with five players with 15 or more home runs.