CHICAGO (AP) — Kansas City’s long postseason drought is over.
The Royals clinched a playoff spot for the first time in 29 years, beating the Chicago White Sox 3-1 on Friday night behind seven scoreless innings from Jeremy Guthrie.
Kansas City secured at least a wild card and ended the longest active postseason drought among the major North American sports leagues. Not since George Brett led the Royals to a World Series victory over the St. Louis Cardinals in 1985 had they reached the playoffs.
Small-market Kansas City endured more than its share of losing in recent years. But it contended into September last season and kicked down the playoff door on Friday.
The celebration started right after catcher Salvador Perez squeezed Michael Taylor’s foul popup for the final out. The Royals mobbed Perez near the plate, with the dugout and bullpen emptying.
A large contingent of Royals fans crowded near the visitors’ dugout, watching the celebration, and players tossed caps to them before walking off the field.
With Detroit losing to Minnesota, Kansas City trails the Tigers by a game in the AL Central with two to play. If they are tied after Sunday, the teams will play game No. 163 at Detroit on Monday to determine the division winner.
Kansas City also maintained a one-game lead in the wild-card standings over Oakland, which won 6-2 at Texas.
Guthrie (13-11) allowed four hits while winning his third straight start. He struck out six and walked one.
The White Sox scored in the eighth against Wade Davis. Adam Eaton tripled with one out and scored on Alexei Ramirez’s single. But Jose Abreu and Conor Gillaspie struck out to end the inning.
Greg Holland worked the ninth for his 46th save in 48 chances.
Alcides Escobar had two hits, including a leadoff single in Kansas City’s three-run first against Hector Noesi, and the Royals won for the fifth time in six games.
Noesi (8-12) settled down, allowing six hits in six innings.
The way the game started, it looked as if he was on his way to an early knockout.
The first three batters each got a hit, starting with Escobar’s single. Nori Aoki lined a run-scoring triple to right, and Lorenzo Cain extended his hitting streak to eight games with an RBI single for his 14th hit in 30 at-bats. Cain came around from second on Billy Butler’s one-out single to make it 3-0.
Chicago’s Paul Konerko began his farewell weekend by going 0 for 4. The retiring slugger, back in the lineup after sitting out Thursday’s game, received loud cheers every time he stepped to the plate, starting with a standing ovation in the second inning.
Copyright 2014 The Associated Press.