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Guthrie tosses gem as Royals add to lead in AL Central

Righty allows a run in eight innings; KC leads Detroit by three games @KCKaegel

ARLINGTON -- It's been quite a month for the Royals: 30 games, 24 victories.

They're in first place by three games over Detroit, their biggest lead so far.

View Full Game Coverage

ARLINGTON -- It's been quite a month for the Royals: 30 games, 24 victories.

They're in first place by three games over Detroit, their biggest lead so far.

View Full Game Coverage

And when Kansas City beat the Texas Rangers, 6-3, on Saturday night, the Royals' record on this happy road trip reached 6-2 with one game remaining on Sunday.

Jeremy Guthrie pitched eight innings for the victory, evening his record at 10-10. Jarrod Dyson drove in three runs, Omar Infante had two RBIs and Alex Gordon got the scoring started with a solo home run.

"We're putting it all together at the right time," said Royals manager Ned Yost.

"Basically all year long we've pitched well, played great defense. We're now 51 games over .500 (59-8) when we score four or more runs. So the whole key was trying to score four runs and there was the majority of the season when we struggled to score four runs. But now we're doing a great job offensively."

In the last month, they've scored four or more runs in 18 games and won each time.

"We're getting clutch hits, we're getting big hits, we're getting runners on, we're taking advantage of mistakes -- and that's been the difference," Yost said. "We've got guys hot. We might have one or two guys hot at a time when we were struggling, now we've got five, six, seven guys hot and really swinging the bat well."

This one started with a first-inning stalemate. Gordon sent a home run down the right-field line off Rangers right-hander Nick Tepesch. And, on Guthrie's first pitch of the game, Shin-Soo Choo belted a homer to left-center field.

Yost thought Guthrie made a good pitch, a low fastball to try to get ahead.

"It was a good pitch for him to hit," Guthrie corrected, "especially since it went 410 feet."

But then Guthrie put down the next 12 batters in a row and his teammates got busy and scored three runs in the fifth inning. Dyson walked -- on four straight pitches, no less -- with the bases loaded to force in one run.

"I just think he couldn't find the zone there. I doubt if he'd tried to walk me with the bases loaded," Dyson said slyly. "But I'll take it."

Then Infante delivered a two-out, two-run single and the Royals had their magic number -- four runs.

They got two more in the seventh after Erik Kratz and Lorenzo Cain each singled and moved into scoring position on Alcides Escobar's sacrifice bunt. In came left-hander Alex Claudio to face the left-handed-hitting Dyson.

Good spot for a pinch-hitter?

"I think earlier in the year I would've pinch-hit for him in that spot," Yost conceded, " but he's been coming up with a bunch of big base hits against tough left-handed pitchers."

Bang, Dyson singled to center for two more runs and a 6-1 lead.

Guthrie finished up his eight innings, giving up just five hits and one walk. But by then he'd made 111 pitches and Aaron Crow was summoned to finish up in the ninth. He did, but not before the Rangers added two runs.

However, Guthrie got his 10th win and joined James Shields (12), Jason Vargas (10) and Yordano Ventura (10) in double digits. The last time the Royals had that many 10-plus winners was 1988 when the names were Bret Saberhagen, Mark Gubicza, Charlie Leibrandt and Floyd Bannister.

Yes, it's been a fun month and the Royals are at the stage where they can enjoy a light-hearted moment even during a game. Take the second inning when first baseman Billy Butler caught a high popup and, with a big smile, doffed his cap to the Royals' whooping dugout.

Butler had missed a foul popup at first base just the night before, not so funny at the time. But now there was laughter.

"The guys are on me, I misjudged a few popups," Butler said, chuckling. "Misjudge a few popups around this bunch and they're going to let you have a hard time. I wouldn't expect anything less."

It's been a fun 30 days, for sure. The team is atop the American League Central and hungry for its first postseason berth since 1985.

"It's been a good month," Guthrie said. "I'd take two more of them."

That, of course, would take them deep into October.

Dick Kaegel is a reporter for

Kansas City Royals, Lorenzo Cain, Alex Gordon, Jeremy Guthrie, Omar Infante