KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Nate Karns pitched six innings of one-hit ball, striking out four in his final frame, and the Kansas City Royals cruised to a 6-1 victory over the Chicago White Sox on Wednesday night.
Karns (1-2) wound up striking out seven with only one walk in his best performance of the season, one that helped Kansas City assure itself at least a split of the four-game series with the finale Thursday afternoon.
Mike Pelfrey (0-2) kept the White Sox in it until the sixth, when he gave up a single, double and triple in succession. Eric Hosmer followed with a sacrifice fly for a 3-0 lead, a shot to center that came within about 5 feet of giving the Royals a natural team cycle.
Pelfrey allowed three runs and five hits in 5 1/3 innings, and White Sox slugger Jose Abreu homered off the Kansas City bullpen with two outs in the ninth.
There was little indication a pitchers’ duel would break out Wednesday night.
Karns had allowed 10 runs and four homers over 10 2/3 innings in his last two games, losing both of them. That included a 5-2 loss to the White Sox just last week.
Yet he managed to handcuff the hot-hitting White Sox on Wednesday night, giving up a single with two outs in the first inning and little else. Karns dealt with another runner in the fourth thanks to his own error, and a third runner in the sixth when he struck out Yolmer Sanchez with a wild pitch.
Karns wound up striking out four in that inning, fanning Abreu to end it. It was the first time a Royals pitcher struck out four in an inning since Kevin Appier on Sept. 3, 1996.
Meanwhile, Pelfrey had surrendered seven runs over 8 2/3 innings in his first two starts of the year, and that was only marginally better than his performances all of last season.
But the big right-hander bore down against the weak-hitting Royals, giving up a pair of singles and a walk over the first five innings, easily escaping trouble each time.
The Royals finally got to him in the sixth when Mike Moustakas followed Whit Merrifield’s one-out single with his double to the gap in right. Lorenzo Cain followed with an RBI triple to the same spot, and Hosmer’s fly ball to the wall in center gave Kansas City a comfortable cushion.
The Royals tacked on three more runs off the Chicago bullpen.
White Sox center fielder Leury Garcia was so frustrated after striking out while chasing a pitch in the dirt in the fifth that he slammed his bat in the dirt. It promptly shattered, earning a jeer from the crowd.
White Sox: LHP Derek Holland takes the mound Thursday in the series finale. His last win against the Royals came on April 22, 2011, at Globe Life Park.
Royals: RHP Ian Kennedy is winless in his last nine starts, dating to a 2-0 win in Chicago last Sept. 1. He has posted a 3.07 ERA during that streak.