White Sox hitters fail to solve Meche as Royals coast to victory

CHICAGO (AP) -- Gil Meche shut down a White Sox offense that generated 34 hits in its previous two games, pitching the Kansas City Royals to a 9-1 victory that sliced Chicago's lead in the AL Central to one-half game.

"Just kept them off balance for the most part," Meche said Saturday night after combining with three relievers on a two-hitter.

"Threw a lot of good pitches when I needed to and we scored a lot of runs."

Billy Butler and John Buck hit two-run homers and Mike Aviles had a three-run double for the Royals. Butler, Buck and Aviles had three RBIs each.

With Jose Guillen out with back spasms, Butler has picked up the offense. Seven of his 26 RBIs and two of his four homers this season have come in the first two games of series against the White Sox. He'd been in an 0-for-12 slump.

"That means more to me than anything," Butler said. "Just driving in runs. It hasn't been the best for me this year doing that. Just trying to turn it around a little bit. It feels good to help out."

One night after the White Sox had seven hits in the first inning against Zack Greinke, Meche (7-9) allowed only two hits in 6 1/3 strong innings.

Ron Mahay, Ramon Ramirez and Horacio Ramirez completed the two-hitter as Chicago's lead was chopped to a half-game after the fast-charging Twins beat the Rangers 14-2 Saturday night.

Meche gave up a one-out double in the third to Joe Crede and a triple to Alexei Ramirez in the sixth when the White Sox got their only run on Orlando Cabrera's sacrifice fly.

Meche, now 7-3 in his career against the White Sox, walked one and struck out six.

"Just good control. That was as good as we've seen him, I thought, since he's been a Royal," Chicago's Paul Konerko said. "He's got a big league arm and tonight he put it together."

The White Sox have been in first every day since May 17 and Konerko said it's way too early to be scoreboard watching, even if the lead has shrunk.

"It will be tight the whole way I promise you," he said. "It's going to go down to the end. There will be a lot of momentum swings. There are enough games left where there will be hot streaks and cold streaks. It's not the middle of September where you can see the finish line. ... We're not there yet where it's come in and watch the TV."

Buck hit his sixth homer, a two-run shot in the fifth after Ross Gload had reached on Chicago third baseman Crede's 19th error of the season. Joey Gathright followed with a single, stole second and moved to third on an infield out.

Chicago starter Gavin Floyd (10-6) intentionally walked David DeJesus, who before the All-Star break was leading the majors in batting with runners in scoring position. But Butler, who has seven RBIs in the series, foiled the strategy with an RBI single to left to give Meche a 3-0 lead.

Floyd worked six innings, giving up four hits and three runs, just one of them earned.

Game notes
Chicago's Jermaine Dye left the game in the ninth after being hit in the left leg by a pitch from Horacio Ramirez. Manager Ozzie Guillen said he hopes Dye can play Sunday. ... Jose Guillen could return to the lineup Sunday. Manager Trey Hillman revamped his batting order, putting Mark Teahen in the leadoff spot and using customary leadoff man DeJesus at No. 3. DeJesus has been one of the best clutch hitters in the majors this season and was batting .305 with 51 RBIs before Saturday. Teahen was 0-for-5 and struck out three times. ... The White Sox will unveil a life-size sculpture of Harold Baines before Sunday's game. The taciturn Baines has had little to say about the honor but will speak at the ceremony. "I know the speech will be fast," said White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen, one of Baines' best friends. Baines had three stints with the White Sox during a 22-year career that featured 2,866 hits and 384 homers. He is in his fifth season as coach with the team. ... Manager Ozzie Guillen said veteran starter Jose Contreras has been bothered by stiffness in his arm. Contreras, who was hit by a comebacker in a game against the Cubs last month, has given up 20 hits and 12 runs in his last two starts, spanning 9 2-3 innings.