The Kansas City Royals hit the field with their starter on a 60-pitch limit and two key relievers unavailable because of overwork.
All they did was win a pitcher’s duel.
Lorenzo Cain hit a solo home run and five pitchers combined to allow seven hits in a 2-1 victory over the slumping Chicago White Sox on Saturday.
Danny Duffy and Peter Moylan combined for six scoreless innings. Joakim Soria (2-1) worked out of a seventh-inning jam and Wade Davis pitched a hitless ninth for his 11th save in Kansas City’s second straight win over the AL Central leaders.
"We win on pitching and defense and this was another good example of it," manager Ned Yost said.
Cain’s leadoff shot to center in the sixth off Miguel Gonzalez (0-1) made it 2-0 after Eric Hosmer’s first-inning sacrifice fly.
Gonzalez allowed six hits, struck out eight and didn’t walk a hitter over six innings in his third start since being called up from Triple-A. But he got no help from an offense that’s frustrated. Chicago has lost eight of 10.
"It’s our first real kind of test in the division and the Royals are doing their job and we basically are not," Chicago third baseman Todd Frazier said.
The Royals won for the sixth time in eight games despite needing bullpen help with Duffy on a pitch limit. He allowed four hits in 4 1/3 innings, throwing 63 pitches.
"I try to be available when my team calls upon me to do something. That’s what’s happened the past two outings," Duffy said on being converted back to a starter.
"It doesn’t really feel weird. It’s not really as much of a task when you’ve got the defense that you do behind you and the bullpen behind you," he said.
Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas, activated off the disabled list after missing more than two weeks with a left thumb injury, went 0 for 4 with three strikeouts and misplayed a bunt to load the bases with nobody out in the seventh.
Soria replaced Brian Flynn and induced slumping Jose Abreu’s double play grounder to end Chicago’s 13-inning scoreless streak. Soria then got Frazier to ground to third before working a perfect eighth in his first two-inning stint since 2011.
Yost said "under no circumstances" would he use Luke Hochevar or Kelvin Herrera. Hochevar had appeared in five of seven games and Herrera four of six.
"They let me know that I might go one-plus, but I didn’t know two innings," Soria said. "I felt good and I was hitting my spots."
Not even more lineup tinkering by manager Robin Ventura could get the White Sox out of their offensive funk.
Jerry Sands played first base and hit cleanup, with Melky Cabrera moved to fifth and barely missed a home run with a fourth-inning double off the wall. Abreu hit second for the second straight day and was the DH and Tyler Saladino was again at shortstop in place of struggling Jimmy Rollins.
Rollins struck out pinch-hitting for Sands in the eighth for Chicago, which has scored four runs in three games.
Ventura said he sees players pressing, including Abreu before his double play.
"You could see it as far as getting in those situations trying to probably hit a seven-run homer," manager Robin Ventura said. "You can’t get out of it that way. You’ve got to be able to relax and get through it. We’ll be there for him."
Royals: To make room for Moustakas, Cheslor Cuthbert was optioned to Triple-A Omaha, where Yost said he’ll play second and third. "Did he deserve to go down? No," Yost said. "There’s just not a spot for him." … Yost said they elected to keep 13 pitchers because Duffy needs to be stretched out after entering the rotation.
White Sox: RHP Jake Petricka (hip) is not ready to come off the disabled list. "He still feels a little something there," Ventura said.
DYSON OVER ORLANDO
Despite his second three-hit game of the week Friday, Paulo Orlando was out of the Kansas City lineup. And for good reason. Jarrod Dyson started in right and went 3 for 4 with a stolen base while improving to 7 for 8 against Gonzalez.
Royals RHP Yordano Ventura (4-2, 4.85 ERA) faces LHP Carlos Rondon (1-4, 4.73) in Sunday’s series finale.