CHICAGO - This is what the Chicago White Sox expect from Jon Garland: He kept his pitches down in the strike zone and kept the hitters off balance.
Garland led the White Sox to their eighth win in nine games and extended the Kansas City Royals' deep slump with Chicago's 4-1 victory Tuesday night.
"I kept the ball down a lot better," said Garland, who allowed one run and six hits in 6 1/3 innings after getting hit hard in his first two starts. "The previous two starts, I was missing pitches up and out over the plate, and I was getting killed."
Kansas City has lost nine in a row, its longest skid since its team-record 19-game losing streak late last year, and is a major league-worst 2-11 - beating the White Sox on April 7 and 8.
Jeremy Affeldt (0-2) allowed three runs - all unearned - and four hits in six innings. He struggled a bit with his cutter, but the curve was there. Overall, he said his command was "the best it's been" this season.
Royals shortstop Angel Berroa made the key error.
Garland, who struck out three and walked none, resembled the pitcher who won a career-high 18 games last season - not the guy who allowed nine runs in 5 1-3 innings in a loss at Kansas City or the pitcher who got the win at Detroit despite giving up seven runs in five innings.
He allowed a leadoff homer to Mark Teahen in the third and left after Teahen singled with one out in the seventh. Brandon McCarthy relieved and retired Angel Berroa and John Buck on flyouts.
"He just tried to wipe the last two starts out, and he went out there and tried to start over," catcher Chris Widger said of Garland.
Jenks gets save
Bobby Jenks pitched a perfect ninth for his fifth save in five chances, finishing Chicago's fourth win in a row.
Joe Crede and Juan Uribe had RBI singles as the White Sox scored three runs in the fourth to take a 3-1 lead. Crede was 2-for-4. Scott Podsednik had two singles - his third straight multihit game - and stole two bases for Chicago, 9-5 after a 1-4 start.
One night after managing one hit against Jose Contreras and two relievers, the Royals struck first when Teahen hit his first homer of the season in the third.
With a runner on and two out in the fourth, Berroa botched Jermaine Dye's grounder to short. Crede singled in Jim Thome from second to tie it, and Juan Uribe singled to drive in Dye and Crede for a 3-1 lead.
"I hit my spots," Affeldt said. "I threw a pretty good pitch to Uribe. He didn't hit it that hard. He just hit it where no one was at. With second and third and two outs, it kind of kills you right there."
Manager Buddy Bell seemed more upset by the error than the single.
"You just can't give this team over there extra outs," he said.
Thome has scored a run in each of the first 14 games - the longest streak by a major leaguer to start the season since former White Sox star Frank Thomas in 1994. Thome drove in Podsednik with a single in the seventh off Andrew Sisco that made it 4-1.
Kansas City center fielder David DeJesus left the game with tightness in his left hamstring in the second inning. DeJesus led off the game with a ground ball that second baseman Tadahito Iguchi backhanded on the edge of the outfield grass behind the bag before firing to first for a close out. He took the field in the bottom of the inning, but Shane Costa went to center in the second.
DeJesus missed six games with the same injury, and is 1-for-12 since returning on Saturday at Tampa Bay.
That first at-bat was an omen for the Royals. But it was also a positive sign for Garland.
"I think a lot of these teams know I'll come down with that sinker, and they're sitting on it," Garland said. "I threw a few more off-speed pitches and had these guys out in front."
It's too early to say he's back to last season's form, but this certainly was a good step for him.