KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Jose Quintana worked overtime Saturday night to earn his first victory over the Kansas City Royals.
Making his 17th start against the Royals, Quintana stranded six men in scoring position over seven scoreless innings to pace the White Sox in a 6-1 victory at Kauffman Stadium. Alexei Ramirez and Geovany Soto both homered for the White Sox, who played outstanding defense behind Quintana to earn their third straight win.
“This was probably his best showing with these guys,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “He was really getting his curveball over. Not having to rely on a fastball early in the count. He went a little backward. Great curveball, he could drop it in pretty much any time he wanted, kept them off balance. Any time he does that and has command like that, he’s tough.”
Not much was easy for Quintana -- who said he used a similar game plan to the one employed by John Danks on Friday -- against the Royals aside from the first inning.
Kansas City had runners on the corners and no outs in the second inning only for Quintana to escape unscathed. Jose Abreu made a nice play to get lead runner Kendrys Morales in a rundown before Quintana retired the next two batters to strand a pair.
He also worked around one-out doubles in the third and fourth innings and a two-out double in the sixth.
But Quintana saved his best escape act for last. With runners on second and third and one out, Quintana struck out pinch-hitter Jonny Gomes before he retired Alcides Escobar on a grounder to second with the aide of a fantastic play by Gordon Beckham.
Quintana, who had been winless in six career decisions against Kansas City with a 4.68 ERA, allowed seven hits and struck out five. Afterward, Quintana knew it was his first victory over the Royals. He also said he was pumped up to help the White Sox clinch a series victory.
“I’m so excited to get this game,” Quintana said. “It’s really fun when you get runs. I’m excited to get the series for us and we continue to try day by day to get some wins. We’re ready for tomorrow.”
Kansas City didn’t let up after Quintana departed as Nate Jones stranded runners on the corners when Ramirez turned a fantastic inning-ending double play in the eighth. Jones was the third pitcher of the inning as the Royals cut it to 4-1.
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The White Sox didn’t do much early before the offense woke up in the fourth inning against Royals starter Danny Duffy. Abreu drew a leadoff walk, one of two free passes, and Avisail Garcia singled off Duffy’s glove. Trayce Thompson flew out to deep left center and Abreu tagged up on the play and went to third before Ramirez hammered a 1-2 curveball for a three-run homer.
Three innings later, Soto blasted a solo homer over the home bullpen in left field to give the White Sox a four-run lead.
Adam Eaton and Melky Cabrera added on to the lead with two-out, RBI singles in the ninth inning.
Beckham, who also had two hits and scored a run, was surprised to learn it was Quintana’s first victory over the Royals.
“Q was hitting his spots all night,” Beckham said. “He’s just a competitor. More than anything he just competes. That’s what you want out there as a pitcher. Playing behind him is a lot easier because you know he’s locked in and he’s going to compete as well as he possibly can.”