Despite a disappointing season, the Chicago White Sox are in the midst of their longest winning stretch of the year.
The Kansas City Royals , meanwhile, must find a way to get back on track to remain a serious playoff contender.
Looking for a sixth consecutive victory, the White Sox try to end James Shields ' recent run of success and complete their first road sweep of the Royals in four seasons Thursday night.
Chicago (51-74) is well out of postseason contention, but it's won 11 of 16 since a season-high 10-game slide. It's been almost a year - Aug. 20-26 - since the White Sox won six straight overall.
They haven't swept a series at Kansas City since May 29-31, 2009.
The Royals (64-61), meanwhile, have totaled 18 runs while losing four straight and seven of nine. They are 6 1/2 back of the final AL wild-card spot and 9 1/2 behind Detroit in the Central.
"We have just not played well," said slugger Billy Butler , one of the few Royals to hit with a .379 average his last 15 games. "We're in a tough stretch and we're just not hitting."
After being held to two runs in the first two games of the set, Kansas City hopes to provide Shields (8-8, 3.19 ERA) some support.
Though the right-hander ranks near the bottom of the majors receiving an average 3.61 runs of support, he's 4-1 with a 3.00 ERA in his last five starts. He allowed three hits and overcame four walks in seven innings of a 3-0 victory at Detroit on Friday."I've been pitching well all season," said Shields, who has recorded quality starts 20 of the 26 times he's taken the mound. "I've got a lot of quality starts. That's what I care about, not wins and losses."
Shields' current run of a success began July 26, when he allowed eight hits over seven scoreless innings of a 5-1 victory at Chicago. He's yielded five runs in 26 innings while going 1-1 in four starts against the White Sox in 2013.
Chicago starter Jose Quintana (7-4, 3.66) gave up two runs in seven innings of that loss to Shields last month. Though the left-hander is 0-2 in his last five starts versus Kansas City, he's posted a 3.16 ERA during those outings.
He helped the White Sox snap their season-high 10-game road slide Friday while yielding two runs and striking out seven in 6 2-3 innings of a 5-2 victory at Minnesota.
"(I) tried to come in and attack earlier, throw strikes to every single one of the batters, and thankfully everything worked out," said Quintana, who gave up five runs in five innings against the Twins in his previous start.
Batting .462 (6 for 13) against Shields, Chicago's Dayan Viciedo clubbed his second career grand slam and had three hits in Wednesday's 5-2 victory.
Viciedo is hitting .184 in August, but .350 (7 for 20) with two homers and seven RBIs in five games at Kauffman Stadium this season.
Kansas City's Mike Moustakas is 7 for 16 with two homers against Quintana, and had an RBI on Wednesday. However, he's 0 for 8 with four strikeouts in his last three versus Chicago.
|Alejandro De Aza||10||.200||2||0||1||1||1||.273||.473||.200|
|Chicago White Sox|
|August 20, 2013||Jeff Keppinger||Day-to-Day||Stiff lower back|
|August 16, 2013||Ramon Troncoso||15-Day DL||Pericarditis|
|August 15, 2013||Gordon Beckham||Day-to-Day||Strained right quad|
|August 05, 2013||Dayan Viciedo||Day-to-Day||Jammed left thumb|
|July 30, 2013||Alex Rios||Day-to-Day||Left foot contusion|
|July 21, 2013||Gordon Beckham||Day-to-Day||Strained ligament, left wrist|
|Kansas City Royals|
|August 13, 2013||Mike Moustakas||Day-to-Day||Strained left calf|
|August 11, 2013||Miguel Tejada||60-Day DL||Strained right calf|
|August 09, 2013||Lorenzo Cain||15-Day DL||Strained left oblique|
|August 04, 2013||Salvador Perez||7-Day DL||Concussion|
|August 04, 2013||David Lough||Day-to-Day||Right quad tightness|
|August 04, 2013||Salvador Perez||7-Day DL||Concussion|
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -- Jacob Petricka had been joking with White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper that they were just waiting for the right moment for the reliever to make his big league debut.
How about runners on first and second and one out in a tied game in Kansas City?
In extra innings, no less.
Petricka induced a double-play grounder to end the Royals' threat, and then watched Conor Gillaspie hit a leadoff homer in the 12th inning that powered Chicago to a 4-3 victory and its first three-game sweep in Kansas City in more than four years.
"We were just waiting for the right time," Petricka said with a smile. "Guess tonight was it."
Addison Reed preserved Chicago's season-best sixth straight win, and the first of Petricka's career, when he left the tying run on second base for his 34th save.
Reed walked Billy Butler to start the 12th, and pinch runner Jarrod Dyson swiped second base with nobody out. Reed recovered to strike out pinch hitter David Lough , and Chris Getz lined out to shortstop. Reed then retired Emilio Bonifacio on a lazy fly ball to end the game.
"I felt like I had enough to get through another night," said Reed, who has closed out each of Chicago's last six wins. "If I'm in, it's a good thing. I'm going to do everything I can to prepare myself if I need to throw the ninth tomorrow."
Gillaspie's homer came off Luke Hochevar (3-2), and just cleared the outstretched glove of right fielder Justin Maxwell . It bounced off a sign behind the wall and back into play, and for a moment there was some question whether it should have been a ground-rule double.
"I was close," Maxwell said. "I had a pretty good bead on it."
Not good enough, though. Replays showed it was clearly a homer, one that doomed the Royals to their fifth straight loss and eighth in the last 10 games overall.
"They're grown men. They've got to pull themselves out of it," Royals manager Ned Yost said of the slide. "They've got to find a way to get out of this."
Emilio Bonifacio , Alcides Escobar and Jamey Carroll each drove in a run for the Royals in the fifth inning. Alexei Ramirez , Dayan Viciedo and Josh Phegley had RBIs for the White Sox.
Early on, James Shields and Carlos Quintana were engaged in quite a pitching duel.
Shields worked around a pair of singles in the first, and then retired 10 straight White Sox batters before Avisail Garcia singled to lead off the fifth.
Quintana set down the first nine Royals he faced, including four strikeouts in the first two innings. His run ended with a leadoff single by Alex Gordon in the fourth.
The Royals finally broke through in the fifth inning in very Royals-esque fashion.
The light-hitting club managed to load the bases on a walk by Billy Butler and back-to-back singles by Maxwell and Mike Moustakas . Bonifacio followed with an RBI single, and Escobar and Carroll added back-to-back sacrifice flies to give the Royals a 3-0 lead.
Yep, three runs on a walk, three singles and two sacrifice flies.
The White Sox got two of the runs back in the sixth. The first came home on a one-out single by Ramirez, and the second on a blooper to center by Viciedo that fell just beyond the outstretched glove of Escobar retreating from shortstop and just in front of center fielder Dyson.
Phegley's double off first base and into right field tied it in the seventh.
Shields and Quintana were both done after seven innings. Shields allowed nine hits and struck out eight without a walk, while Quintana allowed four hits with seven strikeouts and one walk.
"You never want to get swept. We had a great effort tonight. We just have to keep grinding it out," Shields said. "We've got a lot of character in this team. We don't have any quit in us. We've just got to keep grinding it out."
NOTES: White Sox 1B Paul Konerko was scratched just before first pitch. He complained of light-headedness. ... The White Sox recalled INF Leury Garcia from Triple-A Charlotte. OF Blake Tekotte was optioned to Charlotte the previous night. ... The Royals welcome the Nationals to Kauffman Stadium for the first time since they were the Expos for a three-game series starting Friday. The White Sox open a six-game homestand against Texas.