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Vazquez loses bid for perfect game, rolls to fourth straight win

CBS SportsLine.com wire reports
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CHICAGO -- The evidence was there from the start, when the first batter lunged at a pitch and struck out.

Javier Vazquez was in control. And the Kansas City Royals couldn't stop him.

Vazquez took a perfect game into the sixth inning and won his fourth straight start in the Chicago White Sox's 9-2 victory over the Royals on Saturday night

"I can't say it was my best stuff," he said. "I've felt better at other times. The key is that my pitches were working. I was throwing strikes."

Vazquez (4-1) kept the Royals off-balance, lunging at sharp curves. He allowed two runs on four hits, struck out six -- all in the first five innings -- and did not walk a batter.

Angel Berroa doubled to the wall in left on a 1-2 pitch leading off the sixth to end the perfect game bid, and scored from third on a double-play grounder by Paul Bako that made it 6-1.

"Back in his Montreal days, I thought he was one of the top players in the National League," said Kansas City's Matt Stairs, who was 0-for-3. "You can tell that he's back to the form that he (had) then."

Chicago's Jim Thome homered in his third straight game, connecting for a three-run shot in the fifth that made it 6-0. Slumping Brian Anderson homered leading off the third inning and had two hits in his first start since Tuesday.

Tadahito Iguchi had four hits for the third time in his career, extending his hitting streak to eight games, and A.J. Pierzynski had three hits and two RBI as the White Sox won for the seventh time in nine games.

Royals starter Runelvys Hernandez (1-2) allowed six runs on nine hits in 4 2/3 innings, hitting trouble right from the start.

"Today my command was a little off," he said. "My breaking ball was a little up."

The White Sox scored a run in the first when Scott Podsednik led off with a double down the right-field line and came around on Iguchi's single.

Anderson, mired in a 1-for-22 skid his previous 10 games and batting just .141, hit the first pitch of the third inning out to left to make it 2-0. Ross Gload added a sacrifice fly in the fourth.

After singles by Anderson and Iguchi in the fifth, Thome blew open the game when he connected on a 1-1 pitch with one out. It was his 13th homer of the season and 443rd of his career, putting him in sole possession of 31st place on the career list, ahead of Dave Kingman.

That was plenty for Vazquez, who pitched eight scoreless innings against Kansas City on April 19. He left this start after Esteban German's RBI single in the eighth.

Acquired in a trade with Arizona in December, he is looking like the pitcher who made the All-Star team for the Yankees in 2004 -- not the guy who struggled for the last 1 1/2 seasons.

Actually, Vazquez said he hasn't felt this comfortable since he went 9-2 with a 1.60 ERA in the second half of the 2001 season with Montreal. He finished that season with a career-high 16 wins.

After allowing a career-high 35 home runs last year, Vazquez has given up just one so far. He went three starts without allowing an extra-base hit, before Berroa's double.

The difference? Vazquez said it's the two-seam fastball. The ball stays down -- and in the park.

"When I'm up in the zone, I get hurt a lot," he said. "With a two-seamer, the action goes down."

The fifth starter in what is arguably baseball's best rotation, Vazquez lowered his ERA to 2.88. Not bad considering it was 4.91 with the Yankees and 4.42 with the Diamondbacks.

"We've known Javy for a long time," said manager Ozzie Guillen, who coached in Montreal. "I think (general manager Ken Williams) loves him. And I love him too."

But they weren't sure how Vazquez felt about returning to the American League.

"I always said that I liked the National League because I spent all my years there," Vazquez said. "When you feel good about yourself, where your stuff is and where your mechanics are, the league doesn't really matter."

Notes

2B Iguchi's last four-hit game was Sept. 24 against Minnesota. ... White Sox RF Jermaine Dye was out of the lineup for the fourth straight game with a tight left calf, and Gload made his fourth straight start. ... Royals OF Reggie Sanders was out of the lineup for the second straight game with a tight left hamstring. "Reggie said today that he was feeling a little bit better," manager Buddy Bell said. "He's still going to be a few days." ... RHP Denny Bautista, on the 15-day DL with a sore right pectoral muscle, will start Monday's game against Cleveland, Bell said. He replaces Joe Mays, whom the Royals asked to accept a demotion to Triple-A Omaha on Friday. ... OF David DeJesus, on the 15-day DL since April 19 with a strained left hamstring, had a setback while running on Friday. "(He) tweaked the other hamstring or had a cramp, and he had to shut down his running," Bell said.

 
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
 
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Players of the Game
Chicago

A. Pierzynski
AB 5
R 0
H 3
HR 0
RBI 2
Chicago

J. Vazquez
IP 7.2
H 4
ER 2
BB 0
K 6
 

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Kansas City Royals
Kerry Robinson, CF4000020 .276
Mark Grudzielanek, 2B4000010 .276
Doug Mientkiewicz, 1B4000000 .236
Matt Stairs, DH3000010 .233
Emil Brown, LF3110010 .226
Aaron Guiel, RF3000011 .167
Angel Berroa, SS3110001 .240
Esteban German, 3B3021000 .500
Paul Bako, C2000000 .133
   a- John Buck, PH-C1000011 .204
Totals30241073 
a-struck out for Bako in the 8th
Batting
2B - Emil Brown (8, Vazquez), Angel Berroa (5, Vazquez)
RBI - Esteban German (5)
2-OUT RBI - Esteban German (2)
Team LOB - 1
Fielding
E - Esteban German (4, Misplayed grounder)
Kansas City Royals
Runelvys Hernandez (L,1-2) 4.2966132 4.91
Jimmy Gobble 1.1000010 4.91
Steve Andrade 1222210 5.40
Mike Wood 0.2110100 3.44
Joel Peralta 0.1000000 2.08
WP - Runelvys Hernandez (2)
Pitches-Strikes - Runelvys Hernandez 83-53, Jimmy Gobble 16-10, Steve Andrade 28-15, Mike Wood 25-15, Joel Peralta 3-2
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Runelvys Hernandez 7-4, Steve Andrade 1-1, Mike Wood 3-0
Batters Faced - Runelvys Hernandez 24, Jimmy Gobble 4, Steve Andrade 7, Mike Wood 5, Joel Peralta 1
Chicago White Sox
Scott Podsednik, LF4110000 .264
Tadahito Iguchi, 2B5341000 .342
Jim Thome, DH3213211 .299
    Pablo Ozuna, PR-DH0000000 .524
Paul Konerko, 1B4110111 .339
A.J. Pierzynski, C5032003 .326
Joe Crede, 3B3000104 .314
Ross Gload, RF3001003 .167
Juan Uribe, SS4000023 .161
Brian Anderson, CF4221010 .160
Totals3591284515 
Batting
2B - Scott Podsednik (8, Ru. Hernandez)
HR - Jim Thome (13, Ru. Hernandez), Brian Anderson (3, Ru. Hernandez)
SF - Ross Gload (1)
SH - Scott Podsednik (2)
RBI - Tadahito Iguchi (15), Jim Thome 3 (32), A.J. Pierzynski 2 (8), Ross Gload (1), Brian Anderson (7)
Team LOB - 8
Fielding
DP - Konerko-Uribe
Chicago White Sox
Javier Vazquez (W,4-1) 7.2422060 2.88
Neal Cotts 0.1000010 3.21
Brandon McCarthy 1000000 5.52
Pitches-Strikes - Javier Vazquez 116-84, Neal Cotts 5-3, Brandon McCarthy 10-8
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Javier Vazquez 9-7, Brandon McCarthy 2-1
Batters Faced - Javier Vazquez 26, Neal Cotts 1, Brandon McCarthy 3
Game Information
Attendance - 38593
Game Time - 2:38
Temperature - 52
Umpires - Home - Brian Gorman, First Base - Eric Cooper, Second Base - Bill Miller, Third Base - Gerry Davis