White Sox avoid sweep with 11-inning win

David Smale, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

KANSAS CITY, Mo - The sequel of the pitching matchup was just as good as the first show.
The Chicago White Sox averted a sweep at the hands of the Kansas City Royals with a 2-1 victory over the Royals in 11 innings Monday at Kauffman Stadium.
The Royals' James Shields and Chicago's Chris Sale locked up in a rematch of Opening Day, when Sale won a 1-0 decision over Shields and the Royals in Chicago.
Jordan Danks belted his first home run of the season off Kelvin Herrera (2-3) in the top of the 11th for the winning margin. Jesse Crain pitched a scoreless 10th for the White Sox to get the win and improve to 1-1. Addison Reed pitched a perfect 11th to pick up his 11th save in 12 chances.
The game was a make-up of Friday's rainout.
"Being able to pull out a win like that, especially when we're struggling, it's big time," Danks said.
"This was just an old-fashioned pitchers' duel," Chicago manager Robin Ventura said. "It's just one of those grind-it-out games. You're hoping you get an opportunity and finally it happens. That was a big homer by Danks. These guys have just got to stay with it."
Shields was nearly flawless Monday. He mixed his pitches and carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning, and he finished with no runs allowed in eight innings. He gave up just two hits, walked two and struck out nine.
"I felt good out there," Shields said. "I felt like I had all my pitches working. I struggled early in the game getting ahead of hitters, and I gave up a couple of walks. But for the most part it was a tough battle. When you're facing Sale, it's going to be tough."
Sale was equally impressive. He gave up one run on six hits, with no walks and five strikeouts. He threw 119 pitches, 80 of them strikes.
"I kind of fell into a groove," Sale said. "I had a lot of three-ball counts. Give credit to them. It felt like I was throwing a metal ball to magnet bats there for a little bit. I got into a little bit of rhythm.
"Sweeps will kill you. James Shields was awesome, actually. But to keep our heads in the game and grind it out, it says a lot about who we are."
The Royals held a 1-0 lead entering the ninth, but Greg Holland blew his second save in nine chances. He gave up hits to the first three batters, before getting Paul Konerko to ground into a 1-2-3 double play.
But, after intentionally walking Conor Gillaspie, he gave up an infield hit to Alexei Ramirez that drove in the tying run. Second baseman Chris Getz fielded the ball, but couldn't get Gillaspie as Alex Rios scored. Danks, who was pinch-running for Adam Dunn, over-ran third and was tagged out in a rundown.
Royals manager Ned Yost, who said he thought Getz would have recorded the out had he fielded it cleanly, said that there was no thought to keeping Shields in the game in the ninth.
"Not really," he said.. "Everybody has their job to do and Shields had done his. He threw eight shutout innings. It was a one-run game. The runs make all the difference. If it was a two-run or a three-run lead, yeah. But in a one-run game, (if) you send him out he's either going to win it or lose it. You let the closer go out and try to do his job."
Both teams had chances to score more runs but couldn't get the key hit.
Shields averted trouble in the top of the seventh when Ramirez pulled a Shields offering just outside of the left-field foul pole. At least that was the ruling. Ventura asked for an umpire review, but the review did not change the call. Replays indicated that it may have been fair, but there was no conclusive replay.
"Yeah, I had a real good look at it," Yost said, when asked if he had a good view of the play. He didn't add anything else.
The Royals wasted little time getting to Sale in the first. Alex Gordon hit a line drive off Sale's leg and beat out a close play for a single. After Alcides Escobar flew out to the wall in left center, Billy Butler yanked one down the third-base line for an RBI double.
Sale, who had pitched 7 2/3 innings of shutout ball in the opener with 104 pitches, needed 36 pitches to get out of the first. He used another 21 pitches in the second.
"We were seeing pitches and battling," Butler said. "We just could not pull through there. I felt we had it right up until the last out, and they tied it and did what we did to them yesterday. You have to tip your hat to him for bearing down. He had some quick innings there. We had him on the ropes, but that's what good pitchers do. That guy is an All-Star for a reason and he showed it."
But once Sale found his groove, he was as untouchable as Shields. He needed only 62 pitches in the next 5 1/3 innings. He retired 15 in a row at one point.
NOTES: Jake Peavy had been scheduled for Monday's start but was scratched because of back spasms. The Royals now stand 10-5 at home after 15 games. At this point in 2012, they stood 2-13...This was Shields' sixth quality start in seven outings.

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