Chicago White Sox starter Chris Sale delivers a pitch against the Kansas City Royals in the first inning during a baseball game in Chicago, Saturday, May, 12, 2012. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)
Luke Hochevar allowed three hits in seven shutout innings Saturday night and the Kansas City Royals scored three first-inning runs off Chris Sale to beat the Chicago White Sox 5-0.
Hochevar (3-3) cruised as the White Sox mustered only one real scoring threat against him all night. That came in the second on a walk and single by Alex Rios before Alexei Ramirez hit into a double play.
Hochevar walked one and struck out five, and his strong effort came after two rough outings against Detroit and New York Yankees when he surrendered a total of 19 hits and 16 runs in 6 1-3 innings. Greg Holland pitched the eighth and Aaron Crow walked two in the ninth before completing the shutout.
Sale (3-2), returning to the rotation after a one-appearance stint in the bullpen with a sore elbow, made his first start since May 1 and lasted five innings. The Royals sent nine batters to the plate in the first with Sale's early wildness a major factor and an error on second baseman Gordon Beckham also hurting the White Sox.
Sale's first seven pitches were balls and he walked the first two batters before giving up a single to Alex Gordon that loaded the bases. Billy Butler then drove a ball into the right field corner, but when baserunner Johnny Giavotella didn't get a good break off second, just one run scored and the bases remained full.
When Jeff Francoeur grounded to Beckham on a perfect double-play ball, Beckham touched second and threw wildly past first for an error and two runs scored for the Royals. An infield single by Eric Hosmer and bloop single by Irvin Falu re-loaded the bases before Sale escaped after throwing 42 pitches in the opening inning.
Sale then settled down and retired nine straight at one point. He gave up seven hits and the three runs during his 103-pitch outing with two walks and three strikeouts.
Alcides Escobar delivered a two-out RBI double in the eighth for Kansas City and scored on a single by Humberto Quintero.