CHICAGO — Who likes bunts?
The Royals scored the winning run Thursday in a 3-2 victory over the Chicago White Sox when David Lough and George Kottaras put down bunt singles after Justin Maxwell’s leadoff single in the seventh inning.
“Two bunts changed the game,” manager Ned Yost said. “I mean, David Lough’s two-run homer was big. Jeremy Guthrie, the way he threw the ball was tremendous. But the two bunts changed the game.”
That the White Sox mishandled both bunts deserves mention. So, too, that the Royals, after those bunts, failed to cash a second-and-third opportunity with no outs.
Still ... it worked out, and the Royals bounced back from two shutout losses in Seattle, which eliminated their chance to reach the postseason, by improving to 84-75 with three games remaining.
“That’s the goal of everyone — to sprint to the finish line,” said Guthrie, who allowed two runs in seven innings. “We won’t pack it in just because there’s no chance to make the playoffs.
“We’d love to win as many games as we can.”
Those 84 victories are the Royals’ highest total since their 1993 club finished 84-78. Greg Holland set a club record by getting his 46th save by working the ninth and closing out Guthrie’s victory.
Holland pitched around a two-out single in moving past Dan Quisenberry (1983) and Jeff Montgomery (1993) in the club’s record book.
“I think, maybe, it will set in a little later,” Holland said, “but right now, I’m just happy we won. Anytime you’re mentioned with guys you know were great, it’s pretty special.
“But when you’re out there on the mound, you’re just thinking about saving a game for the guys because they’ve played their butts off. They’ve done it all year. It’s been a lot of fun.”
Guthrie, 15-12, surrendered homers in the second inning to Paul Konerko and in the sixth to Adam Dunn but handed a one-run lead to Luke Hochevar to start the eighth inning.
Hochevar served up a leadoff single to Alejandro De Aza on an 0-2 fastball, but De Aza tried to steal second — and was thrown out by Kottaras, who drew a rare start in place of Salvy Perez.
“He put that sucker right on the money,” Hochevar said. “I knew (De Aza) likes to go, especially on the first pitch. I just tried to give him a quick slide step, and give Georgie a chance.”