Kansas City Royals' Alex Gordon (4) is tagged out by Chicago White Sox shortstop Alexei Ramirez (10) as Gordon was caught in a rundown between second and third in the third inning during a baseball game Tuesday, July 19, 2011, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Ed Zurga)
Danny Duffy returned from the minors to toss seven sharp innings, Matt Treanor delivered a go-ahead two-run single in the sixth and the light-hitting Kansas City Royals hung on to beat the Chicago White Sox 4-2 on Tuesday night.
Melky Cabrera homered and Alcides Escobar drove in the other run for Kansas City, which came into the game batting .196 while scoring a measly eight runs during a recent three-game skid. The anemic output in part prompted manager Ned Yost to call a closed-door meeting a couple hours before the first pitch.
Turned out the Royals didn't need a whole lot of runs with Duffy (2-4) back on the mound.
He hit the first batter he faced, walked the second and allowed both to score. But he settled down after that shaky start to out-pitch Jake Peavy (4-4), mowing down a lineup that White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen stacked with right-handed hitters for the express purpose of facing the left-handed rookie.
The 22-year-old Duffy, who had been winless in his last four starts for the Royals, needed 64 pitches to get through the first three innings -- and just 30 total over the next four. He allowed five hits and two walks while striking out six, matching the longest start of his blossoming major league career.
Greg Holland pitched a perfect eighth inning and Joakim Soria worked around a single in the ninth for his 10th consecutive save and 17th of the season.
Duffy was sent to Triple-A Omaha during the All-Star break to pitch on regular rest. He returned to face Peavy, a former Cy Young winner, who was nearly as sharp while allowing three runs and seven hits over six innings in his most encouraging start since the middle of June.
The two-time All-Star had allowed 14 earned runs in 16 1-3 innings over his last three starts, two of them losses and one against Kansas City. Peavy has said he's been slow to bounce back after surgery about a year ago to repair a torn muscle under his right shoulder, but his command seemed to return against a struggling Royals lineup that has failed to score more than four runs each of its last seven games.
Carlos Quentin and Alex Rios hit consecutive RBI singles in the first to stake Peavy to a 2-0 lead. His only blemish until the sixth inning came when Royals rookie Eric Hosmer singled in the second, Treanor hit a double and Escobar grounded out to drive home a run.
Peavy set the Royals down in order in the fourth and fifth before running into trouble.
Billy Butler singled with one out in the sixth and Jeff Francoeur doubled into the left-field corner to put runners on second and third. After a visit to the mound, Peavy intentionally walked Hosmer to load the bases for Treanor, who came through with a single up the middle to give Kansas City a 3-2 lead.
Cabrera's two-out homer in the seventh gave the bullpen a bit of breathing room.
While the game turned into a defensive pitcher's duel, it was a far from flawless performance. Both teams committed an error and there were numerous baserunning blunders.
The most laughable came in the third inning, when Kansas City's Alex Gordon got caught between second base and third. He tried to retreat to second and nearly ran into Cabrera, who had been on first and was trying to advance. The White Sox finally tracked down Gordon for the rare 2-4-5-6 caught stealing.