KANSAS CITY, Missouri — With All-Star reliever Wade Davis nursing a bad back and closer Greg Holland earning saves the past two days and unavailable, Kansas City Royals manager Ned Yost turned to Ryan Madson to protect a one-run lead in the ninth.
Madson struck out two in a spotless inning as the Royals edged the Chicago White Sox 5-4 Sunday for a three-game sweep.
"We feel we have four guys that can close," Yost said.
Madson saved 32 games in 2011 with Philadelphia, but had been out of the majors until this year because of injuries.
"It helps a bunch," Madson said of being familiar with the role. "When you first try it, it's a totally different feel, a totally different game in that ninth inning."
"But so, yeah, I appreciate all the experience I've had throwing in the ninth inning 'cause then it's just the same game as it is in the eighth and seventh. Sometimes it's a little bit easier because the hitters feel more pressure and they're a little more aggressive," he said.
The Royals have won three straight games by one run for the first time since August 2012. Kansas City widened its lead to 11 1-2 games in the AL Central and improved to 10-3 against the White Sox this season.
Kendrys Morales hit a two-run homer that put Kansas City ahead 3-0 in the first.
"The first inning changed my whole game," White Sox starter Jose Quintana said.
It was 4-all in the eighth when Alex Rios singled with one out off Jake Petricka (3-3) and Paulo Orlando followed with a ground-rule double. Omar Infante hit a grounder to first baseman Jose Abreu, and Rios slid home ahead of the tag.
"Jake threw the pitch he wanted," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "It wasn't very well struck. At that point it doesn't matter. They've got a guy who can run well down the line. It was a tough play by Jose, but I thought he made a good effort."
Eric Hosmer doubled home a run in the first and Morales hit his 13th homer. It was Morales' major league-leading 24th multi-RBI game.
Royals starter Danny Duffy was pulled after 3 1-3 innings and 73 pitches. He gave up three runs in the third on a walk, hit batter, wild pitch and two hits. Kris Medlen replaced him and threw 3 2-3 hitless innings.
ZOBRIST AT THIRD
Zobrist started at third base for the first time since Sept. 30, 2010, while with the Rays at Kansas City. He did not field a ball at third base for seven innings before being replaced by Mike Moustakas in the eighth.
Royals: LHP Brian Flynn (left lat tear) is rehabbing in Arizona, but it appears unlikely he will return before the season ends, although he did not require surgery.
White Sox: LHP Chris Sale, who has allowed 14 earned runs and 18 hits in 10 1-3 innings in losing his previous two outings, will start Monday against the Angels.
Royals: RHP Johnny Cueto will make his first home start since the Royals acquired him in a July 26 trade with the Reds. The Royals dropped his first two starts on the road.