Jeremy Guthrie continues to own the Chicago White Sox with little to show for it. The Royals continue to own Brett Myers to their immense benefit. And Kelvin Herrera and Greg Holland continue to show escapability with the game on the line.
The result Sunday was a no-decision for Guthrie but a 2-1 cliff-hanger victory for the Royals over the White Sox in 10 innings at U.S. Cellular Field.
“That’s what it’s all about — helping the team win,” said Guthrie, who has just one victory to show for working 232/3 innings without allowing an earned run in three starts against the White Sox.
“If you go out there, and the team wins every time you pitch, that’s a good thing.”
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There was much for the Royals to feel good about: defense, pitching and a few timely hits. Let’s start at the end:
Alcides Escobar opened the 10th with a single into center against Jesse Crain, which brought Donnie Veal, the sixth Chicago pitcher, into the game for a left-on-left matchup against Alex Gordon.
When Gordon struck out, the White Sox went to pitcher No. 7 — a lucky seven for the Royals: Myers, whom they had tattooed for 10 runs and 15 hits in three innings over four previous appearances.
“I guess we just like hitting off of him,” third baseman Mike Moustakas said. “It’s one of those crazy stats that you don’t think about and nobody really knows. I guess we see the ball well coming out of his hand. I don’t know. He’s a great pitcher.”
Not against the Royals. This was more of the same.
It didn’t even matter that Escobar was thrown out stealing second for the second out.
Myers walked Billy Butler. After Jarrod Dyson replaced Butler as a pinch-runner, Salvy Perez punched a single to right that moved Dyson to third.
Moustakas served a single into right field for the game’s first run. Jeff Francoeur followed with an RBI single to left for a 2-0 lead.
“It seems like every time I face them,” Myers said, “balls find the holes and stuff like that. I don’t necessarily think the quality of the pitches is bad.”
The White Sox didn’t go quietly against Holland, who issued a leadoff walk to A.J. Pierzynski and, with one out, put the tying run on base by walking pinch-hitter Orlando Hudson.
Gordon Beckham then pulled an 0-2 pitch into left for an RBI double before Holland dropped the hammer by striking out Alejandro De Aza and Ray Olmedo. It was Holland’s 13th save in 13 chances since becoming the Royals’ closer.
“Greg gave us a little scare,” Francoeur said, “but he knew he was going to do what he did. He was just messing around.”
Herrera, 3-2, got the victory for pitching out of a bases-loaded jam with one out in the ninth inning. That threat started when Tim Collins, who replaced Guthrie, opened the inning by walking De Aza on four pitches.
Olmedo moved De Aza to second with a sacrifice bunt but came up limping on his way to first. That resulted in a bonus out because first baseman Eric Hosmer tried for the out at second. That throw was late, but Escobar’s throw to first still beat Olmedo.
Then the strategy wheels started turning.
When the White Sox inserted Tyler Flowers as a pinch-hitter for Dewayne Wise, the Royals countered by replacing Collins with Herrera. That prompted another countermove: Dan Johnson batted for Flowers.
Yost answered by ordering an intentional walk. After Jordan Danks replaced Johnson as a pinch-runner, Alexei Ramirez lined a single to left — but the White Sox, who had three runners thrown out earlier in the game, held De Aza at third.
Herrera ended the inning by getting Alex Rios to ground into a double play.
“I knew all I had to do was get it to Esky,” second baseman Johnny Giavotella said, “and it was going to be turned. I just made sure I got it to him, and he did the rest.”
The Royals also had a chance in the ninth — a lesser chance, but a chance.
Francoeur hustled his way to a one-out double against Matt Thornton on a line drive to center. Francoeur gambled and won when De Aza threw high to second.
Thornton retired Hosmer on a fly to center before Chicago manager Robin Ventura opted for Crain to face Giavotella, who drew a four-pitch walk. But Crain struck out Lorenzo Cain on a slider that dipped outside the zone.
Guthrie wanted to return for the ninth after holding the White Sox to six hits on 97 pitches through eight innings, but Yost went instead to the bullpen.
“After pitching eight innings like he did,” Yost said, “I wasn’t going to put him in position to lose the game. I just couldn’t do it. If he had gone back out in the ninth, and given up a run, I wouldn’t sleep for two days.”
The Royals backed Guthrie with superb defense, including three outfield assists.
Gordon completed a double play in the first inning by throwing out De Aza at the plate. Francoeur had two assists: He trapped Pierzynski between first and second in the second inning and threw out Ramirez at third on Pierzynski’s two-out single in the seventh.
“The defense really set the tone for the game,” Guthrie said. “We could have been down two or three runs right after the gate.”
Lefty Hector Santiago started the season as Chicago’s closer but pitched his way into a set-up role before circumstances last week turned him into a starter. He exited a scoreless game after a leadoff walk in the fifth pushed his pitch count to 93.
“Their pitching staff is really good,” Francoeur said. “We know that. The big thing for us was having Santiago only go four innings. We wasted a lot of guys in their pen to get to the ninth and 10th (innings).”
That one of those guys was Myers didn’t hurt.
“He struggles at getting us out,” Yost said. “I don’t know what it is, but we’ve done a nice job against him. The numbers are pretty staggering.”