CHICAGO — CHICAGO Whatever happens over the seasons closing weeks, Jeremy Guthrie provided the Royals with a performance Wednesday night unlike anything they ever received from Jonathan Sánchez.
Guthrie worked eight shutout innings in a 2-1 victory over the Chicago White Sox for his first victory in nearly 10 weeks. Greg Holland yielded a run in the ninth before closing out the victory.
That, arguably, could be the best-pitched game weve had all year, manager Ned Yost said. Hoch (Luke Hochevar) threw a dandy against Tampa (in a complete-game shutout on June 25), but that might top it by a little bit. He was in total control.
The Royals got their only runs on homers by Mike Moustakas in the second inning and Salvy Perez in the fourth. Both came against Chicago rookie José Quintana, who fell to 4-2 despite pitching into the eighth.
Guthrie made those two runs stand up and made it look easy in doing so.
We mixed really well, he said. I was able to go to both sides of the plate. When you can do that, you give yourself a lot better chance. They cant sit on one spot and one pitch.
Guthrie permitted just five hits while striking out six and walking none in a 104-pitch performance.
You saw it, Moustakas said. Guth went out and dealt tonight and made guys put the ball in play. Our defense made some good plays, but youve got to give all of the credit to him. He was in the zone with all of his pitches, and he kept their guys off balance.
Guthrie, 1-3, came to the Royals from Colorado in a July 20 deal, which marked an exchange of terrifically disappointing pitchers acquired in the off-season trades. Sánchez is currently on the Rockies disabled list.
Dayton (Moore) said when we got him that it might take four starts before he gets it going, Yost said. Hes gotten a little bit better each start. He was really good against Texas in his last start, and he was just spot-on spectacular tonight.
Holland made it interesting before gaining his third save in three chances since becoming the closer following a July 31 trade that sent Jonathan Broxton to Cincinnati for two minor-league pitchers.
Adam Dunn hit a one-out double and scored on A.J. Pierzynskis two-out single before Holland closed out the Royals sixth victory in nine games when Alexei Ramirez lined out to short.
Weve just got to go out and win ballgames, Moustakas said. Nothing else matters except winning ballgames. Were in last place, but we cant look at that. Weve just got to go out and try to win every ballgame like we were in first.
For one night, thats how it looked.
Guthrie is 4-12 overall and had not won in 10 previous starts dating to May 31 while pitching for Colorado against Houston. This was only his second victory in 15 starts dating to April 22 at Milwaukee.
You want to win, he said, but you cant make it happen no matter how much you worry about it. All you can do is try to make better pitches and limit your runs. If you give up zero runs, you have a better chance to win than if you give up six.
Thats a Stanford education talking. Or maybe just a Stanford education talking to sports writers. Either way, its hard to argue.
Tonight was the first time (since joining the Royals), Guthrie said, that I was able to go out there and keep a lead, pitch with a lead and give us a chance.
The Royals stirred their bullpen into action when Guthrie yielded a two-out single in the eighth to Orlando Hudson, which turned over the Chicago lineup. Guthrie ended the inning by retiring Alejandro De Aza on a fly to left.
Guthrie wanted to return in the ninth for a chance at his first career shutout. Yost chose to go with Holland.
With a four-run lead, Yost said, I wouldnt hesitate to throw (Guthrie) back out. But with a two-run lead, I wasnt going to do it. He had done his job. Now it was time to let Holland do his job.
The White Sox played without two of their bigger weapons.
First baseman Paul Konerko missed the game because of a mild concussion suffered Tuesday in a collision with Jarrod Dyson. Right fielder Alex Rios got the night off to rest a sore back.
Then again, it might not have mattered.
(Guthrie) kept the ball down and everything was working, Perez said. He threw a lot of first-pitch strikes. That helped him a lot. He had really good command today.
Moustakas opened the scoring by turning around a first-pitch fastball with two outs in the second inning. He sent it over the Royals bullpen beyond the right-field wall for his 17th homer and a 1-0 lead.
I got an 0-0 heater right down the middle, he said, and I just put a good swing on it. Quintana has been throwing the ball well for them. We had to get to him early.
The Royals extended their lead to 2-0 on Perezs two-out homer in the fourth into that right-field bullpen.
Oppo-taco, he said. He was behind in the count and threw a pitch right in the middle. I got it.
They didnt get anything more. Didnt need it, though.