Holland pitches White Sox to split vs. Royals

Holland pitches White Sox to split vs. Royals

KANSAS CITY -- Left-hander Derek Holland continued his recent mastery of the American League Central, handcuffing the Royals on three hits and one earned run through 6 2/3 innings as the White Sox rolled to an 8-3 win on Thursday to split the four-game series.

Holland set down the first 10 batters he faced until Mike Moustakas doubled sharply inside the line in left field. Holland struck out seven, and now has posted seven straight quality starts against AL Central teams, including five this season.

"I thought I had really good command of everything," Holland said. "For the most part, it's always going to be the defense.

"If I'm keeping them on their toes, they are going to make the plays. I attacked the zone big time today. My pitch count was fairly low for the most part. My offense did a great job putting runs on the board."

Added Royals manager Ned Yost, "He just filled up the strike zone. He normally attacks you with the good slider, but today his fastball was really good."

Abreu's two-run homer in 1st

Jose Abreu hit a two-run home run in the first and Matt Davidson belted a solo home run in the second off Royals starter Ian Kennedy, who left the game with one out in the fifth because of a right medial hamstring strain. Davidson's home run, on a 2-2 changeup from Kennedy, traveled an estimated 452 feet, according to Statcast™.

Kennedy exits with injury

Kennedy, who will be re-evaluated on Friday, gave up six hits, five runs (four earned) while walking one and striking out three -- his worst outing of the season in six starts.

"He had a couple of elevated pitches early," Yost said. "The fourth inning was just kind of a mish-mash of everything -- an error, a walk, a balk, a dunk single in there. He just wasn't sharp."

Spot-starter, big producer: Davidson wasn't scheduled to play on Thursday until Todd Frazier was scratched pregame with back stiffness. Davidson took advantage of the opportunity by clubbing his fifth home run and singling. Davidson's blast covered 452 feet, per Statcast™, with an exit velocity of 109.6 mph and a launch angle of 28 degrees. More >

Statcast: Davidson's long homer

Royal uprising, sort of: The Royals made a little noise off Holland in the seventh when Lorenzo Cain led off with a walk and Eric Hosmer singled, pushing Cain to third. Salvador Perez's sacrifice fly drove in one run. Later, a hit batter and an error by Davidson at third base on a grounder by Alcides Escobar scored Hosmer.

Royals capitalize on error

"It's frustrating [to be losing]," Royals outfielder Alex Gordon said. "But at the same time, we know we're better than this. Our offense has been awful and we're still only five or six games out."

"We have a good team here with the chemistry and everything. It's turning out to be what we want it to be." -- Holland, on the 15-12 White Sox, who are tied for first in the AL Central

Gordon was plunked by a pitch from Holland in the seventh -- the 79th time in Gordon's career that he has been hit by a pitch, passing former catcher Mike Macfarlane for a new club record. More >

Gordon's record-setting HBP

White Sox reliever Anthony Swarzak retired both hitters he faced, meaning he has set down 13 straight and 31 of his last 32.

In the sixth inning, the Royals challenged a ruling that White Sox catcher Geovany Soto was hit by a pitch from left-hander Mike Minor. After a review, the call was confirmed.

Soto is hit by a pitch in 6th

White Sox: Right-hander Miguel Gonzalez (3-1, 3.27 ERA) returns to face his former team in Baltimore as the White Sox open a three-game series on Friday with a first pitch set for 6:05 p.m. CT. Gonzalez lost his one previous start against the Orioles.

Royals: Right-hander Jason Hammel (0-3, 6.65) will take the mound for the Royals as they open a three-game set with the Indians at 7:15 p.m. CT on Friday night at Kauffman Stadium. Hammel only went three-plus innings in his last start against the Twins on Sunday, giving up five runs and six hits.

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Jeffrey Flanagan has covered the Royals since 1991, and for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter @FlannyMLB.

Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin, on Facebook and listen to his podcast.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.