SEATTLE | The best pitching staff in the majors — hey, look it up — got another shutdown effort from a starter Monday night as Zack Greinke pitched the Royals into first place with a 5-1 victory over the Seattle Mariners.
Greinke gave up just one run and five hits in his third career complete game as the Royals lowered their MLB-best ERA to 2.46.
The victory boosted the Royals to 8-5 and enabled them to jump past the Chicago White Sox and into first place in the American League Central Division.
Greinke, 3-0, benefited from three double plays in a 107-pitch performance. It was the staff’s second straight complete game; Brian Bannister improved to 3-0 on Sunday by also throwing 107 pitches in a 5-1 victory over the Minnesota Twins.
The Royals backed Greinke with an 11-hit attack that included homers from Billy Butler and Miguel Olivo in a three-run second inning against Seattle starter Jarrod Washburn. Olivo also had two single.
José Guillen and Tony Peña showed signs of breaking free from prolonged slumps by getting two hits apiece. David DeJesus played for the first time since Opening Day and went one for four with a sacrifice fly. Greinke struck out four and walked one.
Butler opened the second inning with a homer on a drive to left. It was his first homer and continued his streak of getting a hit in every game.
Guillen followed and marked his return to Seattle by hammering a double into the right-center gap. Washburn, 1-2, struck out Alex Gordon, but Olivo unloaded a two-run homer to center.
It was the Royals’ biggest single-inning output of the season. They topped out at two runs _ 13 times _ in their previous 108 innings.
Greinke benefited from double plays in the first two innings but paid for a leadoff walk in the third after Kenji Johjima’s single put runners on first and third with no outs. Greinke limited the damage to one run by inducing ground outs from the next three hitters.
The Royals mounted a two-out threat in the fifth after Peña broke a zero-for-26 skid with a single. DeJesus followed with a single before Washburn loaded the bases by hitting Mark Grudzielanek.
It came to nothing when Mark Teahen hit a weak grounder to second for the third out.
The Royals produced another double play behind Greinke in the sixth after Ichiro Suzuki’s one-out single. The Mariners put on a hit-and-run, but José Lopez hit a fly to short center. DeJesus made the catch and easily doubled Suzuki off first.
Washburn exited after throwing 104 pitches through six innings. He gave up three runs and six hits while striking out six and walking none.
The Royals jumped on reliever Sean Green in the seventh. Olivo led off with a single and went to second on a four-pitch walk to John Buck. Peña botched two sacrifice attempts before squirting a single into short right that loaded the bases.
Seattle manager John McLaren called on Ryan Rowland-Smith for a lefty-lefty matchup against DeJesus. The result was a sacrifice fly to center that extended the lead to 4-1.
The Royals added another run in the eighth by capitalizing on some soft defense. Lopez bobbled the ball while making the pivot on Gordon’s potential double-play grounder after Guillen’s one-out single.
Lopez then failed to make a clean pickup on Olivo’s grounder up the middle. Buck followed with line-drive RBI single into center.