SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Sparkling defense, a stingy bullpen and just enough timely hitting. That winning formula of fundamental baseball has put the Kansas City Royals ahead in the World Series.
They even looked comfortable in the tricky territory at unfamiliar AT&T Park.
Jeremy Guthrie outpitched fellow World Series newcomer Tim Hudson, four Royals relievers combined on four hitless innings and Kansas City beat the San Francisco Giants 3-2 Friday night for a 2-1 lead in the Fall Classic.
Alex Gordon hit a run-scoring double for his first hit of the Series in 10 at-bats and Lorenzo Cain added an RBI and some slick defense in right field as the Royals backed Guthrie with nifty glove work.
Eric Hosmer had a sixth-inning RBI single in an 11-pitch at-bat for his first World Series hit — on his 25th birthday.
Game 4 is Saturday night, with right-hander Ryan Vogelsong trying to get the Giants even against Kansas City lefty Jason Vargas.
Royals manager Ned Yost moved Cain from center field to right in place of Nori Aoki for a defensive boost in the trickiest position at AT&T Park. It paid off, too. Cain chased down Buster Posey’s slicing line drive in the first for a pretty catch from his knees, then snagged Travis Ishikawa’s sinking liner in the second.
On a night that began with a remembrance of late Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn, Kansas City produced just enough run support even without designated hitter Billy Butler. The Series shifted to AT&T Park and National League rules for three games.
The Giants had their six-game home winning streak in the World Series snapped. The unbeaten run dated to the 2002 wild-card club of Barry Bonds and Co. that lost in seven games to the Angels.
The Royals seemed unfazed by the fanfare and tough conditions in improving to 5-0 on the road this postseason. Of the first 56 times the World Series was tied 1-all, the Game 3 winner went on to win in 37 of those instances and four of the last five.
A cast of Giants Hall of Famers were celebrated on the field in a star-studded pregame featuring a “Play Ball!” chant by Huey Lewis.
Pinch-hitter Michael Morse hit an RBI double with none out in the sixth to chase Guthrie. Royals manager Ned Yost turned it over to his fantastic bullpen, and Kelvin Herrera immediately walked Gregor Blanco.
With the hard-throwing Herrera clocking 99-101 mph on the radar gun, Joe Panik had a tough time attempting a sacrifice bunt. His high-bouncing grounder still did the trick to advance both runners, and Buster Posey pulled the Giants to 3-2 on a groundout.
Then, the Royals shut down San Francisco the rest of the way.
Herrera worked 1 1-3 innings, rookie Brandon Finnegan got two outs in his World Series debut, and Wade Davis pitched a 1-2-3 eighth. Greg Holland got three outs for a save.
The four hitless innings of relief were the most in the World Series in 22 years.
Guthrie retired 10 straight during one stretch and combined with Hudson to retire 20 in a row. That was the longest Series streak since the Yankees’ Don Larsen and the Brooklyn Dodgers’ Sal Maglie retired the first 23 batters during Larsen’s perfect game in 1956, according to STATS.
As a gorgeous Bay Area afternoon turned into a breezy night along the water, the 39-year-old Hudson left in the sixth to a rousing ovation from the orange towel-twirling sellout crowd.
Hudson waited 16 years for his first World Series chance only to watch Alcides Escobar hit the game’s first pitch for a double. Escobar scored on Cain’s groundout, and Hudson settled in nicely after the second. The right-hander retired 12 in a row before Escobar’s one-out single through Hudson’s legs in the sixth. Gordon followed with an RBI double.
In a quirky stat, Guthrie became the fifth starting pitcher in World Series history to not record a walk or a strikeout through five innings and the first since Hall of Famer Greg Maddux in Game 2 of the 1996 Series for Atlanta against the Yankees.
Royals: Vargas, an 11-game winner who pitched the ALCS clincher against Baltimore, attended Game 1 of the Giants’ 2010 World Series at AT&T Park against Texas with his wife as a fan.
Giants: Vogelsong is the only pitcher to yield no more than one run in his first five postseason starts. That run ended in the NL Championship Series when Vogelsong allowed four runs in three innings of a no-decision against St. Louis. … San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy said he and pitching coach Dave Righetti discussed going with ace lefty Madison Bumgarner in Game 4 on short rest if trailing — something they know he can handle physically despite his heavy workload.