Offensive onslaught paces Royals
Kansas City posts season-high 19 hits; Soria pegs 31st save
KANSAS CITY -- The heat locked up Kyle Davies' calves, and an unhittable-for-so-long Ron Mahay faltered. All the while, the White Sox came dangerously close to ruining Kansas City's banner offensive day.
Mike Aviles still didn't get nervous. Not once.
"[Joakim] Soria came in," Aviles said. "And you gotta have faith in him."
Soria did everything expected of him in Saturday's 9-7 win over Chicago, closing out the comeback victory for his 31st save of the season while Davies collected his second consecutive win. They were helped by an offense that delighted a crowd of 21,866 with a season-high 19 hits and three home runs.
That high-powered attack helped the Royals cruise from the second inning to what seemed like would be an easy win.
Then came the reminder in the eighth. Nothing against a first-place team is too easy.
Mahay, who'd given up just one run in the month of July, could hardly get anyone out. Pinch-hitter Brian Anderson drilled a solo home run, and Jermaine Dye made it back-to-back with the next at-bat. After Jim Thome doubled, manager Trey Hillman replaced Mahay with Ramon Ramirez.
"Sometimes you get to the point where you take these guys for granted," Hillman said about Mahay. "And you can't do that because they're human, too."
Well, except for maybe Soria. Hillman hadn't planned on using him because Kansas City was up by five runs going into the eighth. But after the White Sox made it 8-6 with Mahay and Ramirez pitching, he had no choice.
Soria came in with one out in the top of the eighth and runners on second and third. He gave up a sacrifice fly, then struck out Juan Uribe to end the inning. In the ninth, Soria forced a double play and then ended the game with another strikeout.
His save preserved what was truly a great day for the offense. Esteban German had three hits, along with four other Royals. Billy Butler, Jose Guillen and Miguel Olivo homered.
Things were so good offensively that the Royals left the bases loaded twice and it didn't even matter.
Most of the damage came against Chicago starter Mark Buehrle. He came into the game 17-7 lifetime against the Royals with a 1.88 ERA this season. On Saturday, he didn't make it out of the fifth inning while giving up eight runs.
"I just think it was our day," Butler said. "Buehrle is a great pitcher. More times than not he's had our number."
The solid hitting and clutch save from Soria came on a day where the heat index reached 111 degrees.
"The best word to describe it was miserable," Aviles said.
Davies knew plenty about that misery. Hillman took him out of the game in the sixth after he experienced leg cramps. Davies said they intensified after a long at-bat from Carlos Quentin. By the time Dye came up after Quentin, Davies could barely push off the mound.
The cramps may have cut his outing short, but Davies couldn't complain. In the second inning, he gave up back-to-back home runs and put his team in a 3-0 hole. From then on, he cruised, retiring 11 straight batters until the sixth inning.
"After the Konerko home run," Davies said, "I kind of stepped off the mound and said, 'All right take a breather. It's 3-0, and you haven't got out of the second inning. Let's just settle down and throw some strikes.'"
The offense helped calm Davies' nerves. It gave him two runs in each inning from the second through the fifth.
And when all those runs looked like they might not be enough, the team had someone to calm them down, too: Soria.
"We knew they had the potential to break out and come back," Butler said. "But Soria came in and shut the door. He's our closer."
Mark Dent is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.