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White Sox 4, Royals 2: Jeff Samardzija silences Kansas City

Clutch defense seals fourth consecutive victory against Central leaders

Jon Durr/Getty Images

Remember when the White Sox couldn't get a win against the Royals to save their hides? Now they're beating them, and at their own game to boot.

The Sox picked up their fourth consecutive victory against Kansas City thanks to crazy things like defense and speed. Not to mention Chicago's one-and-done pitcher (Jeff Samardzija) outdueled the Royals' rental (Johnny Cueto).

In the process, the Sox picked up their 74th win to exceed their total from last season.

The Sox never trailed in this game, stringing together some quality sequences against Cueto to give Samardzija a big-enough cushion to allow his scoreless streak to come to a loud-yet-harmless end. Smarch gave up a pair of back-to-back solo shots in the sixth inning, but that only cut the lead to 3-2.

And Samardzija had that lead thanks to a couple of satisfying sequences from the offense.

In the third, Carlos Sanchez kept the inning alive with a two-out walk to turn the lineup over to Adam Eaton, who singled. Jose Abreu then hit a rocket through the left side for his 98th RBI of the year and the game's first run. That Sanchez-Eaton combo came through two innings later, as Sanchez singled and Eaton homered to stretch the lead to 3-0.

The Sox never relinquished that lead thanks to outstanding defense.

Trayce Thompson kept the game-tying run off the board in the seventh with a tremendous catch. Ben Zobrist followed Alcides Escobar's two-out infield single with a line drive to the left-center gap, and with a wind that was pushing everything toward right field. Yet Thompson still managed to close on it somehow, using every foot of his speed and inch of his height to make a diving catch to end the inning.

In the eighth, Mike Olt bailed out Zach Duke, who probably shouldn't have taken over for Matt Albers because Albers has been better this season. Yet there Duke was, inheriting a runner on first with two outs to turn around Kendrys Morales, only to walk him. That put the tying run in scoring position, and Duke jeopardized the situation further by falling behind 2-0 to Mike Moustakas. Moustakes sat fastball, got one, and hit a screamer to the left side -- but Olt reached out and snagged it to maintain the one-run edge.

That lead turned into two when Alexei Ramirez doubled off Joba Chamberlain to score Thompson from first, and David Robertson closed it out with a 1-2-3 ninth for his 33rd save.

Bullet points:

*Thompson's catch was especially sweet because Lorenzo Cain had robbed him of a homer to center field in the second inning.

*Sanchez had one of his best games at the plate during a down month, going 2-for-2 with a walk and two runs scored.

*Eaton now has a two-homer edge for the second spot on the 2015 White Sox leaderboard.

Record: 74-83 | Box score | Play-by-play | Highlights