If only for a moment, the White Sox had Royals closer Wade Davis on the ropes.
A single by Tyler Saladino and a double by Adam Eaton leading off the ninth gave the Sox the tying runs in scoring position with the heart of the lineup waiting to deliver a dramatic come-from-behind victory.
But then Davis did what Sox reliever Chris Beck couldn’t do two innings earlier.
He came through in a pressure situation to preserve a 6-5 victory Saturday for the Royals at U.S. Cellular Field.
“We had a shot at him,” Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “You really don’t get that many opportunities against Wade. He proves every time he goes out there how good he is.”
After Tim Anderson struck out, Melky Cabrera closed the deficit to a run with an RBI single that Royals shortstop Alcides Escobar kept in the infield to prevent the tying run from scoring.
That’s when Davis dug in.
Davis got Jose Abreu swinging to leave the game in the hands of Justin Morneau.
Morneau had given the Sox a 4-3 lead in the fifth inning with an RBI double down the first-base line that had put James Shields in position for his first victory since July 26. But Morneau struck out, giving Davis his 23rd save.
“We were in a good spot right there once Adam hit his double,” Ventura said.
“But [Davis] is so good in tough situations, and he ended up coming out on top. We had our opportunity.”
Despite giving up his major-league-worst 36th and 37th home runs, Shields left after six innings with the Sox clinging to a one-run lead.
But the Royals touched reliever Chris Beck for three runs in the seventh inning to take a 6-4 lead. After Beck struck out Escobar to start the inning, Christian Colon singled before Jarrod Dyson walked.
Beck then gave up a two-run double to Whit Merrifield that gave the Royals a 5-4 lead.
After Ventura pulled Beck in favor of Dan Jennings, Eric Hosmer singled before Kendrys Morales drove in Merrifield with an RBI fielder’s choice.
Just like that, Shields’ chance at a win was gone.
“That’s a tough one, especially with the speed on the bases,” Ventura said.
Shields’ back troubles had Ventura pondering whether to put him on the shelf for the rest of the season.
On Friday, Shields said he was only concerned with finishing strong, and he took a step in that direction.
“I felt pretty good,” Shields said. “I gave up two home runs [to Hosmer and Alex Gordon], but the other two hits were kind of just really weak hits. So, overall, pretty good.”
In the end, though, Davis proved to be just a little better.
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