Royals edge White Sox 3-2

Brian Hedger, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

CHICAGO -- The Kansas City Royals might have been eliminated from postseason contention already, but it didn't sound that way after they beat the Chicago White Sox on Thursday night.
Using the mantra "Finish Strong," the Royals edged Chicago 3-2 at U.S. Cellular Field, which was their 84th win of the season -- the most wins for Kansas City in 20 years.
"We feel like we're right there," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "We've had a great year in terms of experience and tasting what it tastes like to win, what it feels like to be in a playoff chase, to be a playoff contender. Once you taste it, you don't ever want to (go back). So, we got a good taste of it this year."
The Royals also set a franchise record for strikeouts in a season as a pitching staff when Luke Hochevar fanned Marcus Semien for the second out of the eighth inning -- the team's 1,178th of the year.
Meanwhile, starter Jeremy Guthrie finished his season on a high note by picking up his 15th win and throwing 211 2/3 innings this season -- both career highs. David Lough's two-run homer highlighted the Royals' offensive effort, while closer Greg Holland pitched the ninth for his 46th save, one more than the old franchise mark set by Dan Quisenberry in 1983.
"That's the goal of everyone -- to sprint to the finish line," Guthrie said. "That's the type of roster we have, guys that won't pack it in just because there's no chance to make the playoffs. There (are) a lot of things we're playing for, and we'd like to win as many games as we can."
Andre Rienzo took the loss for Chicago despite posting a quality start. Adam Dunn and Paul Konerko each hit home runs to lead the White Sox (62-97), who dropped their third game in a row and fell to 6-21 in their last 27 games. It was also Chicago's 59th game decided by one run, which is the most in the majors. Their record in those games fell to 23-36.
"I thought Guthrie pitched well," Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "He's done that to us before. He's been tough. Besides (Konerko's) and (Dunn's) homers, there weren't a lot of opportunities. Rienzo battled. That's one thing he did tonight. He battled through some erratic pitches and pitched well."
After Dunn's mammoth 442-foot solo shot to right field tied the game at 2-2 in the sixth, the Royals surged ahead 3-2 in the top of the seventh on three singles -- two off bunts -- and a throwing error by White Sox catcher Bryan Anderson.
Rienzo went six-plus innings and allowed three runs (two earned) on four hits. It just wasn't good enough to top Guthrie, who lasted seven innings and allowed just the long solo homers by Konerko and Dunn.
Guthrie became just the third Royals pitcher since 1997 to record at least 15 wins in a season, joining Paul Byrd (17 in 2002) and Zack Greinke (16 in 2009).
"For me, it's a reflection on the team," Guthrie said. "The bullpen pitched tremendous all season long, especially in games I (started) and the offense picked us up right along with the defense. Wins, for the most part, can only be attributed to the guys around you. It's a team effort and I'm really pleased to help the team win games and get credit for it 15 times."
The second-inning homer was vintage Konerko. After a frustrating season dealing with a power-sapping back issue, he finally turned on a 1-1 fastball from Guthrie and smoked it deep into the seats in left field an estimated 415 feet away for a 1-0 lead.
"When you hit a home run, it's the best feeling in sports probably," Konerko said. "So, you always feel good about it. That one tonight, I just attacked it the right way to get it in the air to get it going. I just haven't done that a lot this year."
The home run led off Chicago's half of the second after Rienzo escaped a jam in the top half by stranding runners at second and third with a strikeout of George Kottaras.
The Royals grabbed the lead on Lough's blast in the fourth off Rienzo. Lough drilled a line-drive homer to right field off a 2-0 fastball, also scoring Mike Moustakas and giving the Royals a 2-1 lead.
NOTES: White Sox C Tyler Flowers, who had season-ending surgery on his throwing shoulder Sept. 5, does not anticipate any delay to his offseason work to prepare for next year. ... White Sox INF Jeff Keppinger was scheduled to undergo right shoulder surgery Thursday. ... Chicago finished with its worst road record in team history at 26-55, which "topped" the 27-54 mark of the 1969 Sox. ... Kansas City sat regular SS Alcides Escobar and C Salvador Perez.

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