Dueling with Sale brings out best in Kennedy

Right-hander allows one hit over six innings in win over White Sox

Dueling with Sale brings out best in Kennedy

CHICAGO -- Royals right-hander Ian Kennedy knew going into Sunday's game he and the Royals had little margin for error.

With the Royals going up against tough White Sox left-hander Chris Sale, Kennedy figured he had to be pretty much flawless.

And Kennedy was close to that, save for one shaky inning with his command. Kennedy gave up just one hit through six shutout innings in the Royals' 2-0 win. The victory allowed the Royals to remain four games behind Baltimore for the American League's second Wild Card.

Sale was terrific, too, going eight strong innings, giving up two solo home runs while striking out 12.

"[Chris] Sale was great," Kennedy said. "He gave up two tough balls that got out. But man, he was good.

"What'd he go? Eight innings? Twelve punchouts? I would think he'd take that every time out."

Kennedy didn't have many complaints about his own outing, either. He tossed his 13th quality start this season. He walked four, but struck out six.

Three of those four walks came in the third inning when he kept missing by fractions of inches off the outside corner. With one out, he walked two hitters before striking out the pesky Adam Eaton. After another walk, he got Melky Cabrera to fly out.

Kennedy escapes jam

"That one inning, just missing barely down and a little off," Kennedy said. "Kept falling behind guys. But the big strikeout was Eaton, I thought.

"After that, I finally got ahead of guys. That's a tough lineup. They've had a lot of hits the last couple of days. You have to get ahead of them, especially in this ballpark."

That third inning was the turning point in Kennedy's mind. The White Sox didn't threaten again off him.

Royals turn two

"I will say that inning took a lot out of me," Kennedy said. "After that, I just tried to get through six. But I did feel something click after that inning.

"And sometimes it seems like if you can keep the other team from scoring and you can end a rally, it kind of fires you up and gets you going."

Kennedy picks off Eaton

Kennedy's outing helped secure a series win and a winning road trip as the Royals continue to hang on the edge of postseason contention.

"Every game is crucial right now," he said. "We have to keep winning series."

Jeffrey Flanagan has covered the Royals since 1991, and for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter @FlannyMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.