Ned Yost was so consumed with trying to figure out who would replace Nate Karns out of the Royals' bullpen that he didn't even realize his starter had accomplished a rare feat until after the game.
Thanks to a wild pitch in the sixth, Karns managed to strike out four White Sox in a single inning, the first Royal to accomplish that since Kevin Appier in 1996.
"He was just fantastic," Yost said after Kansas City cruised to a 6-1 victory Wednesday night at Kauffman Stadium, and after finally learning about the four-K inning. "That's a pretty neat accomplishment."
Karns (1-2) allowed only a two-out single in the first over his six dominant innings, striking out seven with one walk. Throw in the wild pitch and an error on himself and Karns only allowed four runners to reach base, none of them getting closer to home than second.
"It helped pitching against them a couple days earlier," he said. "Everything was kind of clicking and they couldn't put a good swing on the ball."
Mike Pelfrey (0-2) kept the White Sox in it until the sixth, when he gave up a single, double and triple in succession. Eric Hosmer followed with a sacrifice fly for a 3-0 lead, a shot to center that came within about 5 feet of giving the Royals a natural team cycle.
Pelfrey allowed three runs and five hits in 5 1/3 innings, and White Sox slugger Jose Abreu homered off the Kansas City bullpen with two outs in the ninth.
"It was good for the most part. I give up five hits," Pelfrey said. "It's all about location and every one of those were over the middle of the plate. I got what I deserved for all of those."
There was little indication a pitchers' duel would break out Wednesday night.
Karns had allowed 10 runs and four homers over 10 2/3 innings in his last two games, losing both of them. That included a 5-2 loss to the White Sox just last week.
Yet he managed to handcuff the hot-hitting White Sox on Wednesday night, giving up that early single and little else. Karns dealt with another runner in the fourth after his own bobble, and a third runner in the sixth when he struck out Yolmer Sanchez with a wild pitch.
Karns had struck out the first two batters and fanned Abreu to end it, making him the first Royals pitcher to strike out four in an inning since Kevin Appier on Sept. 3, 1996.
"We needed a start like that," Hosmer said. "He saved a lot of guys in the bullpen."
Meanwhile, Pelfrey had surrendered seven runs over 8 2/3 innings in his first two starts of the year, and that was only marginally better than his performances all of last season.
But the big right-hander bore down against the weak-hitting Royals, giving up a pair of singles and a walk over the first five innings, easily escaping trouble each time.
The Royals finally got to him in the sixth when Mike Moustakas followed Whit Merrifield's one-out single with his double to the gap in right. Lorenzo Cain followed with an RBI triple to the same spot, and Hosmer's fly ball to the wall in center gave Kansas City a comfortable cushion.
The Royals tacked on three more runs off the Chicago bullpen.
"The initial three was great," Yost said, "but the ability to tack on was even better."
Stats and streaks
Moustakas ended the Royals' scoreless streak at 15 innings with his double in the sixth. ... The Royals have won 19 of their last 26 against the White Sox at Kauffman Stadium. ... Abreu is hitting .400 (14 for 35) over his last nine games. ... Hosmer has reached safely in 23 of 26 games.
White Sox center fielder Leury Garcia was so frustrated after striking out on a pitch in the dirt in the fifth that he slammed his bat in the dirt. It promptly shattered, earning a jeer from the crowd.
White Sox: LHP Derek Holland takes the mound Thursday afternoon in the series finale. His last win against the Royals came on April 22, 2011, at Globe Life Park.
Royals: RHP Ian Kennedy is winless in his last nine starts, dating to a 2-0 win in Chicago last Sept. 1. He has posted a 3.07 ERA during that streak.