KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -Now that the
Chicago White Sox
have dispatched of the last-place
Kansas City Royals
, the AL Central leaders can turn their attention to a showdown with the second place
and two relievers combined on a four-hitter and
hit a two-run homer as the AL Central-leading
beat the Royals 3-0 on Sunday. The
have won 12 of 18 against the Royals this season.
The victory enabled the
to remain 2 1/2 games in front of the Twins, who won 4-1 at Tampa Bay. The
open a three-game series Tuesday at Minnesota that will likely determine the American League Central crown.
''It's a big series,'' Konerko said. ''Obviously, it's the team that chasing you. There are six games left to go in the season.
It's pretty simple at this point. You don't need to speculate about a lot. It is head to head. If we have a bad series, I
don't think it is the end of anything. But if we have a good one, that should do it I would think. So that's our goal.''
have been in first place for 144 days, including all but nine since May 17.
''It is like you're fighting for 12 rounds and you know you're winning, but a lucky punch gets you last round and you're done
and you lose the title,''
said of the Twins seasons. ''That's that way I feel right now.
''The only thing we have left and the only thing that can compliment that is to win (the division). If not, it will be a tough
summer with a bad ending. It can be a tough summer with a lot of happiness with smiling faces and proud. The only way we can
do that is win. This was a huge game today. Now we're going into Minnesota up 2 1/2, so we have a little cushion.''
Danks, who was 0-3 with two no-decisions in his previous five starts, held the Royals to four hits and allowed only one runner
past second base. Danks (11-8), who retired 11 in a row during one stretch, left after seven-plus innings, walking one and
striking out three, picking up his first victory since Aug. 16.
''We are where we are for a reason,'' Danks said. ''We know it's a big series and we know there is a lot at stake. We want
to have as much leeway as we can. I noticed the Twins won today, so I knew we had to win to stay where we were.''
and gave up and a two-out single to
in the first, but struck out
to end the threat. In the second, he hit
with a pitch. He advanced to second on a wild pitch, but was stranded there.
doubled with one out in the seventh and advanced to third on a ground out, but failed to score.
Danks, who was 6-13 with a 5.50 ERA last season, has not allowed a run and only eight hits in 13 innings in his past two starts.
The confidence factor and comfortable level is night and day,'' Danks said between 2007 and 2008. ''The stuff feels the same,
but just the way I feel on the mound is night and day.''
Konerko's 18th home run to left off
aboard after a walk gave the
a three-run cushion.
''I got down 0-and-2 and was just battling, not trying to do too much and definitely trying not to strikeout,'' Konerko said.
''Duckworth's breaking ball was really good, a sharp little slider, so I just tried to stay back and let the ball get deep
to me as much as I could cause he got me with that pitch on my second at-bat. He tried to throw a sinker in. I hit it good,
but hit it high and got in the jet stream up there. The wind was blowing out good, which helped out.''
scored their other run in the first with singles by
putting runners on the corners. Thome's sacrifice fly, which shortstop
caught in shallow left with his back to the plate, was enough to get Wise home.
Kansas City chased Danks when
led off the eighth with a pinch-hit single that extended his hitting streak to a career-high 15 games.
got the next two outs, while
retired the final four batters for his 29th save in 32 opportunities.