CHICAGO (AP) — Bruce Chen pitched four-hit ball into the seventh inning and Kansas City beat the Chicago White Sox 4-1 on Sunday in the finale of the Royals’ best season in 24 years.
Kansas City won three of four in Chicago and went 17-10 in September for its most successful month of the season. The Royals’ 86-76 record was their best mark since they went 92-70 in 1989.
Chen’s sharp outing put a damper on what might have been the last major league game for White Sox captain Paul Konerko, who is eligible for free agency and isn’t sure if he will play again next year. The veteran first baseman is second in franchise history with 427 homers and 1,361 RBIs, and third with 2,249 hits.
Konerko was greeted with loud cheers when he was introduced with the starting lineup, and the crowd of 22,633 saluted the slugger with a standing ovation when he came to the plate in the first. He was replaced by Conor Gillaspie with one out in the top of the second, and he stopped to shake pitcher Jose Quintana’s hand as he left the field to more cheers.
Konerko waved his hat to the crowd as he made his way to the dugout. With the Royals also standing and clapping on the other side, the six-time All-Star acknowledged the long ovation with a brief curtain call.
Chen (9-4) allowed one run, struck out four and walked three in 6 2-3 innings. The crafty left-hander improved to 6-4 since he joined the rotation in July.
Chen was replaced by Kelvin Herrera after he issued consecutive walks in the seventh. Marcus Semien then bounced into a fielder’s choice to end the inning.
The White Sox also put their first two batters on in the first, but Konerko fouled out in his only plate appearance and Avisail Garcia lined into a double play.
Greg Holland worked out of a bases-loaded jam in the ninth while recording his 47th save in 50 chances. The right-hander converted his last nine opportunities of the year.
It was a fitting end for Chicago (63-99), which had one of the majors’ worst offenses this year. Hitting coach Jeff Manto was let go on Saturday, and the White Sox finished with their most losses since they had a franchise-record 106 in 1970.
Quintana (9-7) pitched seven innings to reach 200 for the season. He was charged with four runs and six hits.
Quintana issued two walks, and each of them was costly. Johnny Giavotella got one before Salvador Perez hit his 13th homer in the fourth, and Justin Maxwell got the other before Brett Hayes’ first homer of the year in the seventh.
NOTES: White Sox 2B Gordon Beckham made a great diving stop to rob Irving Falu of a hit in the seventh. … It was Hayes’ first homer since Sept. 21, 2011, for the Marlins against Atlanta.
(© 2013by STATS LLC and Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited.)