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Royals' Shields ends season with 100th win

The SportsXchange

CHICAGO -- James Shields didn't waste his final chance this season to achieve a career milestone.

After stymying the Chicago White Sox for seven innings on Friday night at U.S. Cellular Field, Shields posted his 100th career victory in the Kansas City Royals' 6-1 win in his last start of the year.

Shields (13-9) struck out 10, walked only one and gave up just four hits -- including a solo home run by Gordon Beckham that made it 6-1 in the sixth.

"I'm really excited I got my 100th win today," Shields said. "I'm just proud of my season this year. One-hundred wins in the big leagues ... It's a pretty special moment."

Shields finished the season strong, getting charged with a loss in only one of his final nine outings. In his previous 17 starts, Shields posted a 10-3 record, which tied him for most wins in the majors since June 28.

After coming to Kansas City as the key piece in a seven-player trade with the Tampa Bay Rays last December, Shields wound up giving the Royals what they sought from the deal.

"I think I had four, maybe five win going into August," Shields said. "I had a tough road ahead of me to get that 100th (win), so I felt I grinded it out the last two months and did really well. Overall, I'm pretty happy with my season. I logged a ton of innings and had a lot of quality starts this year."

He nearly had one more homer allowed, though, on a fly ball to deep left field right after Beckham went deep in the sixth. Instead, left fielder Alex Gordon caught it, after first climbing the wall and coming back down to the warning track.

Even the pyrotechnic experts were fooled, setting off fireworks that are supposed to accompany Sox home runs.

"I wasn't trying to deke anyone, but that's how it came off," Gordon said. "It wasn't what I wanted to do with the play, so I just tried to make it as smooth as possible, like I had everything under control, which I didn't."

Billy Butler went 3-for-5 with two RBIs and Emilio Bonifacio went 2-for-4 with two RBIs to lead the Royals (85-75), whose win total is their best since the 1989 team went 92-70.

Chris Sale (11-14) started and took the loss for the White Sox (62-98), who are sputtering to the finish with two games left before a miserable season ends. They're now 6-22 in their last 28 games and have lost four in a row.

The Sox need to win one of the last two games to prevent just their fourth 100-loss season since joining the American League in 1901 -- and first since 1970.

"Nobody wants that," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "Is it going to be the big difference of going into next year? Probably not ... but every game you play you want to win, and that's part of going out tonight and trying to win."

Kansas City made sure that Chicago's chances to lose 100 games stayed alive by rapping out 14 hits and scoring in the first, fourth and sixth to build a 6-0 lead.

Shields started strong, allowing just two hits to Alexei Ramirez and a single to Dayan Viciedo through the first five innings to protect a 3-0 lead.

He also struck out nine to that point -- including two in four of the first five innings -- and stranded Ramirez on third base in the fourth after a one-out triple.

Meanwhile, it was a rough night for Sale right from the start.

The Chicago ace gave up three runs and four hits in the first inning, including a two-run double by Billy Butler that knocked in Emilio Bonifacio and Eric Hosmer, who had walked and singled ahead of him. The Royals also scored once in the fourth on two hits and a walk.

Sale did rack up five strikeouts through the first five innings but also gave up four runs on nine hits and left after throwing 96 pitches in just 5 1/3 innings.

"I feel like that's been kind of a recurring thing every year is my last one's always a pretty bad one," Sale said. "Hopefully, next year I can fix that and end on a happy note. I just didn't have it tonight."

NOTES: White Sox general manager Rick Hahn met with reporters on Friday afternoon and pulled no punches in his assessment of this season. "At the end of the day, I feel personally responsible," he said. "There's no two ways about it. I'm not in uniform. I'm not hitting the ball or throwing the ball, but I'm the one heavily involved in deciding who's out there and in what role. And this is my responsibility to maximize the number of victories this club can have, albeit over an extended period of time and not just in one season. But the way I see it, it's been a disappointing season in which we've underachieved." ... Chicago's Paul Konerko discussed what his thought process will be regarding the continuation of his playing career. Either way, Konerko said he wants to finish his career as a White Sox player. "I don't know the options that will be made available to me, but I think that's always been my goal. That's definitely what I envision, yeah." ... Royals 3B Jamey Carroll doubled with one out in the fourth inning off Sale for his 1,000th career hit. ... After being held to just one stolen base in their previous six games, the Royals swiped two against Sale in the first two innings alone.
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