KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -Coming off a much-needed win Thursday, the Kansas City Royals were shocked to learn manager Trey Hillman, a man they all respected, had been fired and replaced by Ned Yost.
Tough as it was, the move turned out to be just what they needed, at least for one night.
Mitch Maier lined a two-run single in Kansas City's five-run seventh inning against Mark Buehrle, and the Royals made Ned Yost's managerial debut a rousing success with a 6-1 win over the Chicago White Sox Friday night.
The Royals looked like a new team their first game after Yost replaced Hillman, getting good starting pitching, clutch hitting and a solid effort by the bullpen.
Yuniesky Betancourt homered and saved a run with a highlight-reel snag at shortstop, Gil Meche pitched six solid innings and Kansas City roughed up Buehrle (2-5) in the seventh to give Dusty Hughes (1-1) his first win in the majors - and Yost his first win in Kansas City.
``Change has a way of kind of slapping you in the face,' said Yost, who managed six years in Milwaukee before being fired in 2008. ``Everybody loved Trey, everybody respected Trey and I think it caught everyone offguard and they realized there was a sense of urgency for us and this is unacceptable.'
The Royals fired Hillman Thursday night after two mediocre seasons and a 12-23 start this year. He was replaced by Yost, who got his new gig started by shuffling the coaching staff and making minor tweaks to the lineup.
Everything else was essentially the same.
Well, almost everything.
Jose Guillen broke out of an 0-for-22 slump with two hits and the go-ahead RBI. The bullpen held for once, with Hughes allowing a hit in one inning and Blake Wood pitching the final two scoreless frames.
Meche was good, too, finding the control that had been missing - 25 walks in 31 2-3 innings - in his winless start to the season. The right-hander allowed one run on four hits before being replaced by Hughes to start the seventh.
``I feel real comfortable out there,' said Meche, who worked through 23 foul balls by the White Sox. ``The confidence is carrying over and I'm feeling good.'
The White Sox scored their only run off Meche in the fifth inning, playing small ball to set up A.J. Pierzynski's flaring RBI single to left for the game's first run.
The Royals helped Meche out with some nifty defense the next inning.
Maier made the first out on a running catch against the wall on Paul Konerko's long drive to center and Betancourt got the final one with the score tied and a runner on third with a range-and-whirl snag of Mark Teahen's grounder up the middle.
``Those were key plays in a point of a ballgame where it could have been the opposite, where they could have put some runs on the board,' Yost said. ``But we made the plays when we needed to.'
The Royals needed it the way Buehrle was pitching early.
Working quickly and throwing strikes, the left-hander didn't allow a baserunner until Guillen flared a single to right with one out in the fifth.
Then Buehrle's night came apart.
Betancourt started it in the sixth inning, hitting the first pitch he saw out to left for a solo homer that tied it at 1-all.
Guillen hurt Buehrle again in the seventh by fisting a run-scoring single into center, then Maier got Kansas City's fifth straight hit, a two-run single that chased the 31-year-old.
Buehrle allowed six runs - five earned - on eight hits in six innings.
``Annoying, frustrated - I don't really know the word,' Buehrle said after his fifth consecutive loss. ``You've just got to keep battling. I'm making good pitches, but they are just finding holes right now.'
The Royals weren't done.
Jason Kendall added a run-scoring single off Tony Pena and another run came in on Teahen's fielding error. By the time it was over, Kansas City had sent 11 hitters to the plate and Chicago had gone through four pitchers, on the way losing for the 10th time in its last 13 road games.
``There's so many guys struggling. It is hard to see it every day,' White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. ``It gets to the point I don't want to lose any confidence in those guys. I never will, but it starts to put doubts in my mind. Am I thinking the right way or am I lying to myself?'
Notes: White Sox RF Carlos Quentin was scratched from the lineup due to a stomach virus. Mark Kotsay played in his spot after Guillen held Andruw Jones out with a stiff neck. ... Royals RHP Josh Rupe accepted his outright assignment to Triple-A Omaha and will report to the team on Saturday. ... Teahen was 0 for 4 in his first trip back to Kauffman Stadium since being traded in the offseason.
The Associated Press News Service
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