KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Jose Quintana can only do so much.
On Wednesday night his output wasn’t quite enough even though the White Sox left-hander made another strong start.
Jeremy Guthrie shut the White Sox down, and the Kansas City Royals rallied for two late runs against Quintana as they averted a series sweep with a 3-1 victory in front of 17,576 at Kauffman Stadium. Quintana allowed three runs over 7 1/3 innings but once again received no run support as Guthrie, Wade Davis and Greg Holland combined on a four-hitter.
“He’s had some good starts, and we haven’t scored for him,” White Sox first baseman Paul Konerko said. “Part of that is because of where he’s slotted, he’s going to go up against quality pitching. But you’d like to reverse that trend.”
Quintana believes his luck is bound to change, hopefully soon.
The White Sox only put eight men on base against the Royals trio after producing 14 runs in the first two games of the series.
That’s nothing new for Quintana, who has had one or fewer runs scored in 25 of 64 career starts and 39 outings with two runs or fewer.
Even though he continues to be the most consistent White Sox starter in Chris Sale’s absence, Quintana slipped to 2-4.
He retired 11 batters in a row into the eighth inning before Nori Aoki snapped the streak with a one-out bunt base hit on a two-strike pitch. Alcides Escobar then doubled to send Aoki to third, and the White Sox elected for Quintana to intentionally walk Eric Hosmer to load the bases. Billy Butler’s sacrifice fly against reliever Jacob Petricka put Kansas City ahead by a run, and Petricka issued two walks, the second to Danny Valencia forcing in a run to make it 3-1.
Quintana allowed three earned runs and eight hits with a walk over 7 1/3 innings.
“He was tough,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “He was battling. Right there at the end, the bunt is one of those plays — that’s a good play by Aoki to get on there and then the double. He battled all the way.”
The effort should have been enough to earn Quintana his second win in a row.
The left-hander started the game with seven straight outs. He yielded a run in the third on Aoki’s RBI single and found trouble once more in the fourth inning as he loaded the bases with one out after three singles. But Quintana kept the score tied at 1 when he got Pedro Ciriaco to ground into a 1-2-3 double play.
“Q pitched out of a couple big spots and those are hopefully the spots where it gives us the energy and we come out and score some runs, and we just didn’t do that,” Konerko said.
Guthrie ensured it.
The White Sox took a 1-0 lead against Guthrie in the second inning on Konerko’s two-out, RBI single.
That was all they’d get.
Lorenzo Cain saved a run in the third with a running grab to take a two-out RBI away from Dayan Viciedo, and Guthrie settled in. He retired 13 of the final 15 hitters he faced and erased a leadoff walk of Adam Dunn in the fourth by getting Konerko to hit into an inning-ending double play.
Dunn, who walked twice, hit a deep liner to center to start the seventh inning, but Cain caught it near the warning track. Davis (3-1) struck out two in his inning. Holland pitched a scoreless ninth but needed a double play ball off Alexei Ramirez’s bat to get out of trouble.
Despite his bad luck, Quintana doesn’t get too down.
“I like to compete, and I think one time that will change,” Quintana said about his support. “Maybe next time is better for me. Every time the hitters score some runs for me. But it's hard, and Guthrie threw a good game, too.
“I don't get frustrated because I don't have control over that. The only thing I can control is throwing good games, and that's it.”