CHICAGO — There's hot and there's white hot and it's no small difference. The Chicago White Sox are rolling, really rolling, and, through two games this weekend, the Royals simply have no answers.
Carlos Quentin hit two homers Saturday night in support of a stifling effort from Gavin Floyd that pinned a 5-1 loss on the Royals at U.S. Cellular Field.
That makes seven straight victories for the White Sox — and 24 in their last 29 games — and kept them one-half game behind first-place Detroit in the American League Central Division.
And it leaves the Royals, who entered the series on a 10-3 surge, needing a victory today from Zack Greinke to keep from heading into the All-Star break on a three-game skid.
Chicago used much the same formula Saturday as in Friday's 8-2 victory: A superb outing from a starting pitcher and long-ball muscle.
"The last two games," KC first baseman Billy Butler said, "you've just got to tip you hat to them. I felt we could have done more, but you've got to (acknowledge) the way they pitched.
"They maximized their opportunities — kind of like they beat us (Friday). They beat us on the long ball."
Floyd (5-7) worked 7 2/3 innings before departing after Jason Kendall's two-out single in the eighth. That turned into a run, charged to Floyd, when reliever Matt Thornton surrendered an RBI double to David DeJesus.
That was all the Royals got.
Floyd's gem followed seven-plus shutout innings Friday by Mark Buehrle in the series opener.
"They're on a good roll right now," manager Ned Yost conceded, "but it all revolves around their starting pitching. If their starting pitching is doing what it's done the last two games... you don't reel off (24 out of 29) without really, really good starting pitching."
Floyd allowed six hits in continuing a remarkable personal run; seven earned runs in 50 1/3 innings over his last seven starts.
"As good as he's been," Yost said, "your hope is to derail him. But he continued that roll again tonight."
Quentin's first homer opened the scoring in the second inning against Royals starter Brian Bannister, whose career-long miseries against the White Sox continued when he gave up five runs and seven hits in six innings.
It remained 1-0 until Chicago produced a four-run fifth inning. Gordon Beckham led off with a homer, and Quentin capped the inning with a three-run shot.
"It was a changeup down," Bannister said, "and Quentin got (his arms) extended. It wasn't a bad pitch. It was a 2-2 changeup down. He just hooked it right out."
Quentin has four homers and seven hits in 15 career at-bats against Bannister (7-7), who lost for the fourth time in five decisions. Bannister's career ERA against the White Sox, through 16 starts, actually dipped a tick from 7.97 to 7.93.
"I tried to be aggressive against him tonight," Bannister said. "But that last homer, that was the killer."
The Royals had won seven of nine previous decisions against Floyd and opened the game with singles by Scott Podsednik and Kendall.
The promising start fizzled when DeJesus took a third strike before Butler struck out into a double play when Podsednik was thrown out in attempting to steal third.
That set the tone.
Quentin's first homer was a 432-foot bomb to left in the second inning, but it was a four-run fifth that proved decisive. Beckham led off with a homer, and then it quickly got a lot worse.
Omar Vizquel punched a one-out single to left and came all the way around when Paul Konerko pulled a double past third. The ball wedged under a wall pad in foul ground, which hampered Podsednik's efforts to retrieve it.
Third baseman Alberto Callaspo took the relay from Podsednik and threw wildly to the plate. There was little chance to get Vizquel, but the error allowed Konerko to reach third.
That mattered little because Quentin followed with his second homer, and the White Sox led 5-0.