KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) Jeremy Guthrie couldn’t find the strike zone in the first inning. When the Royals’ starter finally found it in the third, the Chicago White Sox made him wish he was still searching for it.
The White Sox scored five times in the inning to break the game open, and then cruised behind some superb pitching from Hector Santiago to a 9-1 rout of Kansas City on Friday night.
“I was hoping to have a much longer evening than I had,” Guthrie said.
Guthrie (7-5) walked three in the first inning, when some lousy base running by the White Sox kept the damage to just two runs. But three straight hits to start the third and a single by Conor Gillaspie later in the inning drove the Royals’ right-hander from the game.
When reliever Bruce Chen promptly served up a three-run homer by Dayan Viciedo, Guthrie’s stat line was complete: Six runs on five hits and three walks in 2 1/3 innings, his shortest start since going the same distance for the Orioles on July 7, 2009.
“He just didn’t have it,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “It was one of those nights when he didn’t have much going for him.”
Hector Santiago had no such problem.
The replacement for injured starter Gavin Floyd, Santiago (3-5) delivered his best outing since going seven scoreless innings May 7 against the Mets. He gave up just three hits and a walk over a career-best eight innings, the only blemish a homer by Eric Hosmer in the sixth.
“He got that early lead. He was pounding the strike zone and letting his defense do the work,” Hosmer said. “He had a lot of run support and he was feeling confident. When you have that lead you can tell the hitter, `Here it is. Hit it.'”
It seemed that Guthrie was telling the White Sox the same thing with far different results.
On a warm, windy night at Kauffman Stadium, Guthrie struggled with his command so much that a bases-loaded free pass that he issued to Paul Konerko in the first inning brought in the game’s first run. Conor Gillaspie’s sacrifice fly later gave Chicago a 2-0 lead.
The real trouble for Guthrie came in the third, when Alexei Ramirez led off with a single and Alex Rios doubled over the head of Alex Gordon in left field. Adam Dunn’s single drove in another run, and Gillaspie’s single knocked Guthrie from the game.
Viciedo greeted Chen with a three-run shot to give the White Sox a 7-0 lead, and Alejandro De Aza added a two-run homer in the sixth inning to finish off their scoring.
“It was a good first inning,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said, “and I think the approach all night, and against those two guys, having Guthrie and Chen in there at the same time, as tough as they’ve been on us, you’re exorcising some curse or something. It was good.”
Indeed, Guthrie’s poor night was especially puzzling given his success against the White Sox. Since joining the Royals last year, the right-hander had been 3-0 in six starts against their AL Central rivals, giving up just two earned runs in 44 2/3 innings.
Guthrie had given up that many Friday night before escaping the first inning.
“He’s got tremendous stuff, period. I think we did a nice job of making him get it over the plate,” Dunn said. “We weren’t swinging at pitches he normally gets us to swing at.”
The nine runs were the most that the Royals’ stingy pitching staff had allowed since an 11-6 loss to the New York Yankees on May 10, and the most runs the White Sox had scored since beating the Toronto Blue Jays 10-6 on June 10.
“Guthrie has been getting us in every game, even from last year, but putting up those crooked numbers was nice,” Santiago said. “Takes a little pressure off the offense – he’s going to want to get ahead and they’re probably going to get better pitches to hit.”
Everyone in the White Sox starting lineup except Tyler Flowers had a hit.
“We got beat up pretty good tonight,” Yost said. “It wasn’t a game that we gave away.”
NOTES: The White Sox recalled RHP Brian Omogross from Triple-A Charlotte before the game. … Major League Baseball announced the Royals will make up their May 2 game against Tampa Bay that was snowed out on Aug. 26 at Kauffman Stadium. The first pitch will be at 1:10 p.m. CT. … LHP Jose Quintana takes the mound Saturday against Royals RHP Wade Davis.