Royals 3, White Sox 1: Pitchers' duel, sweep hopes slip away

Ed Zurga

Jose Quintana valiant, but Jeremy Guthrie gets a little more help to take series finale

The White Sox didn't allow much hard contact tonight, but the Royals found what they needed to avoid the sweep.

A one-out, two-strike bunt single by Norichika Aoki eventually came around to score the winning run during an eighth-inning rally,

Despite turning in only the second seven-plus-inning start this month, Jose Quintana was still saddled with the loss. That Aoki bunt signaled the beginning of the end, as he moved to third on Alcides Escobar's follow-up double. He then walked Eric Hosmer intentionally to create a double play situation for Billy Butler.

Jake Petricka, pitching for the third straight day, got ahead 0-2 on Butler. But he left a fastball up and over the outer-half of the plate, and Butler hammered it to right for a sac fly. Petricka then walked the next batter, and the batter after that on a borderline 3-1 call that Tom Hallion didn't give him, which gave the Royals an insurance run.

That crooked number was the loudest moment of a pretty quiet night for both sides, and even that was more of a slow burn. Quintana and Jeremy Guthrie locked horns to a draw over the first seven innings.

The Sox needed a Royal mistake to score their lone run. With Adam Dunn on first, Alexei Ramirez grounded into an apparent 1-4-3 double play. Guthrie's feed to Ciriaco took care of one out, but Ciriaco fired high and wide to first for no good reason, keeping a baserunner on. Ramirez then stole second, then scored when Paul Konerko won an eight-pitch battle and dumped a single to center.

But the Royals tied it up, and Aoki was at the center of it. With one out, Ciriaco scored the Royals' first hit on an infield single, then moved to second on a fielder's choice. Up came Aoki, who slapped a first-pitch curveball through the left side for a game-tying single.

That was representative of the contact allowed by Quintana all night. He allowed eight hits over seven innings, and seven were singles. The fourth inning was particularly goofy, as the Royals had the bases loaded with one out after two seeing-eye singles and a blooper to left. But with the bases loaded, Quintana got another weak bouncer off the bat of Ciriaco, and it turned into an easy 1-2-3 double play.

Alas, the Sox didn't fare much better on their end. Guthrie limited them to just three hits, a walk and a hit by pitch over seven innings, and they never mounted a threat after the second. They did make it somewhat interesting in the ninth off Greg Holland, as Dayan Viciedo singled and Dunn walked with one out, but Ramirez bounced into a 6-4-3 double play to end dreams of a comeback.

Bullet point:

*At two hours and 41 minutes, this game was tied for the third-fastest Sox game all season.

*Postgame news:

Record: 23-25 | Box score | Play-by-play | Highlights

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