CHICAGO -- The Kansas City Royals gave Jeremy Guthrie some early run support Friday night, and it helped the right-hander end an 11-game winless streak.
Handed a five-run lead to start the game at U.S. Cellular Field, Guthrie allowed two runs in 5 2/3 innings to earn his first win since April 9 in the Royals' 7-2 victory against the Chicago White Sox.
"Just get him some runs ... that's all we wanted to do," Royals manager Ned Yost said of Guthrie, who had been getting just 2.59 runs per game of run support from his teammates dating back to April 16 -- the lowest in the American League during that span. "This is probably the worst start that he's had during this whole streak. He's been really efficient and really commanding his pitches well. The first three innings, he made big pitches when he needed to limit the damage, which was huge."
It was the start of a three-game weekend series between the American League Central rivals, moving Kansas City (34-32) within 1 1/2 games of the first-place Detroit Tigers in the division and two games ahead of the White Sox (33-35).
The Royals scored five runs in the first off left-hander Jose Quintana (3-7), who took the loss, and added solo runs in the second and seventh for their fifth straight win and eighth in the past 10 games.
Guthrie allowed a run in each of the first two innings, but that was the only damage against him. He gave up six hits and walked four, but struck out a season-high nine in the outing.
"We scored a bunch of runs early against a tough pitcher, so it was a huge boost for us to get the five runs first," said Guthrie, who also labored through his outing. "I didn't come out aggressive enough. I was fortunate to get out of the first two innings with just a couple of runs and then I was able to settle in a little bit better down the stretch."
After Guthrie departed in the sixth, with two runners on base, right-hander Aaron Crow used just one pitch to end the inning on a popup by second baseman Gordon Beckham. Beckham, who left seven runners on base in a rough night at the plate, also struck out against Guthrie in the second with the bases loaded and popped out again in the ninth with two aboard.
Three other Royals relievers combined with Crow to keep the White Sox scoreless in the final 3 1/3 innings, and several players led the way offensively. Right fielder Norichika Aoki (2-for-4) and second baseman Omar Infante (3-for-5) each scored twice, while designated hitter Billy Butler (2-for-5), first baseman Eric Hosmer (1-for-2) and center fielder Lorenzo Cain (1-for-5) each drove in two runs.
Quintana, who lost his third straight start, saved the White Sox's bullpen by salvaging six innings despite the rough first. He allowed six runs (all earned), eight hits and a walk, and he struck out six. Quintana has won only once in his past five outings.
"In the past, (Quintana's) always been a little slow coming out of the first inning," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "But they were swinging it. They barreled him up and it happened fast."
The loss was second straight defeat for Chicago after beating the Tigers in back-to-back games of the previous series to climb even at 33-33. The White Sox got shut out by Detroit in the finale of that series Thursday, and have scored only two runs in the past 18 innings.
A day after a pitcher's duel between White Sox left-hander Chris Sale and Tigers right-hander Max Scherzer, the starting pitchers for Chicago and Kansas City allowed eight runs combined in the first two innings.
The Royals took a 5-0 lead against Quintana in the first on six hits, including four straight singles to start the game and run-scoring doubles by left fielder Alex Gordon and Cain.
The Royals tacked on another run in the second, when Aoki doubled, advanced to third on a fly ball and scored on a sacrifice fly.
Chicago scored off Guthrie in each of the first two innings to make it 6-2 only 12 outs into the game.
Guthrie and Quintana both settled down afterward, with neither allowing a run through the next three innings.
"I wanted to throw good pitches, but I missed a lot with location, a little bit high too," Quintana said. "The first inning was a terrible inning for me, but I came back after. I kept the ball down and attacked on the first pitch and (used) all my pitches."
NOTES: The White Sox acquired their third veteran minor-leaguer in a week, signing RHP Henry Rodriguez and putting him on the disabled list at Triple-A Charlotte. Rodriguez, 27, has made 150 career relief appearances in six major-league seasons among four organizations. ... Injured RF Avisail Garcia (labrum surgery) played light catch before the game during his recovery, but he isn't expected to return this season for Chicago. ... Shortstop Alcides Escobar left the game in the eighth with a cramp in his calf and is questionable to play Saturday. ... Royals LHP Bruce Chen, recovering from a bulging disk in his lower back, made his second start Friday for Triple-A Omaha during his injury rehab stint. He allowed six runs on eight hits and two walks in three innings to give him a 12.86 ERA for the Storm Chasers.