Norichika Aoki drove in the game-winning run in the top of the ninth and James Shields pitched seven strong innings, as the Kansas City Royals beat the Chicago White Sox, 2-1, in the rubber match of a three-game set.
Mike Moustakas started the frame with a single to right and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt. Aoki singled on a soft line drive, but Sox center fielder Adam Eaton threw a strike from center as Moustakas rounded third. The ball beat Moustakas home, but he was able to knock it loose from catcher Tyler Flowers’ glove as he slid into the plate.
Greg Holland retired the side in order in the ninth to register his 26th save.
Shields, who was going for his fourth straight win at U.S. Cellular Field, gave up one run and six hits while striking out seven, but received a no decision.
“He has the ability to make big pitches in crucial situations,” Royals manager Ned Yost said of Shields. “That’s why he’s our ace.”
Wade Davis (6-2) pitched a perfect eighth inning for the Royals, who have won their fourth consecutive series on Chicago’s home field.
Zach Putnam (2-1) gave up two hits and the deciding run in the ninth for the loss.
Jose Quintana started for the White Sox and went seven innings, only allowing one run and scattering seven hits, but received his fourth straight no decision.
The Royals opened the game with one run in the first. Lorenzo Cain hit a lead- off double that bounced over the wall in center. A sacrifice bunt moved him to third and Eric Hosmer hit a sacrifice fly to send Cain across the plate.
The White Sox leveled the score in their half of the inning. After Jose Abreu doubled to extend his hitting streak to 13 games, Adam Dunn singled to score him.
Chicago was poised to score in the second, but couldn’t get anyone across. Shields allowed a single, a double and a walk to load the bases, but was able to get out of the inning unharmed after Gordon Beckham’s fielder’s choice grounder.
“They’ve got some good arms out there,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said of the Royals. “Early on you’re wanting to do anything you can to add a little pressure and push a little bit to be able to score.”
From then on, Shields was dominant. After the jam, he only gave up two hits and struck out seven until he was removed following a 1-2-3 seventh.
The Royals managed to put runners on the corners in the top of the sixth. After back-to-back singles, Quintana fanned Danny Valencia to end the inning.
In the top of the eighth, Ronald Belisario loaded the bases on a single, walk and hit-by-pitch, but Eric Surkamp took the mound and induced a pop out from pinch-hitter Raul Ibanez for the final out of the inning.