CHICAGO -- Jeremy Guthrie continues to baffle the Chicago White Sox and the Kansas City Royals are thankful for it.
The Royals (1-2) avoided being swept by Chicago (2-1) in a season-opening three game series at U.S. Cellular Field thanks to another strong outing by Guthrie -- who paved the way to a 3-1 victory on Thursday afternoon with six strong innings.
Alex Gordon, Jeff Francouer and Chris Getz drove in all three Royals runs in the fifth inning against White Sox starter Gavin Floyd (0-1), who took the loss despite posting a quality start through six innings. Kansas City finally got some clutch hitting in that inning, but the story of the day was Guthrie (1-0), who came into the game with an extended run of dominance against Chicago ever since Kansas City picked him up in a trade last July with Colorado.
Guthrie made four starts against the Sox last season and earned one win to go with three no decisions. He also had a 0.30 ERA in 29-2/3 innings and threw a pair of eight-inning shutout performances in this stadium.
His mastery of the Sox continued in this game when he struck out nine, walked just one and allowed only one run. Guthrie left a 3-1 lead to protect and the bullpen didn't let him down. Aaron Crow worked out of a two-on, one-out jam in the seventh by stranding both White Sox runners before Kelvin Herrera pitched a scoreless eighth and Greg Holland picked up the save despite allowing the tying runs to get aboard with two outs.
Floyd allowed just three runs (two earned) during his six innings of work, but Kansas City plated all three runs on three hits and a walk in the fifth.
Both starters were in control through four scoreless innings and had 11 combined strikeouts. Floyd fanned five and Guthrie whiffed six, including two each in the first, second and fourth innings.
The only real trouble for Guthrie in the early going came in the third, when Tyler Flowers walked with one out and advanced to third on a single by Gordon Beckham. The Royals starter negated the threat quickly by getting Alejandro De Aza to ground into an inning ending double play the very next at bat.
After retiring eight straight hitters following Salvador Perez's one-out double in the second, Floyd ran into trouble in the fifth -- allowing three runs on three hits and a fielding error by De Aza in center field. Jarrod Dyson's fielder's choice ground out drove in Eric Hosmer, Chris Getz singled in Jeff Francouer and, Alex Gordon then doubled home Getz for a 3-0 lead.
The Sox got one back in the bottom half of the fifth to make it 3-1 on a pair of two-out singles by Beckham and De Aza, who drove in Tyler Flowers.
Beckham had four hits for the White Sox.
NOTES: The White Sox were 1-for-13 with runners in scoring position in the series. ... According to STATS, Tyler Flowers joined Sherm Lollar (1958) as the only catchers in White Sox history to homer in each of the first two games of a season. Flowers is also the first White Sox player to homer in the season's first two games since Paul Konerko did it in 2010 and first Major League catcher to do it since Atlanta's Brian McCann did in 2007. ... All six runs the Sox scored in the first two games came via five home runs. ... Kansas City's Alex Gordon (1-for-7), Billy Butler (1-for-7), Mike Moustakas (1-for-8) and Eric Hosmer (1-for-7) came into the game a combined 4-for-29 (.138) and went a combined 2-for-13 with four strikeouts on Thursday. ... Royals catcher Salvador Perez, a 22-year-old top prospect in the organization, is off to a good start at the plate with hits in each of the first three games, including a double on Thursday.