KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- James Shields turned and gave a salute after striking out Pablo Sandoval to end his four-hitter, the Kansas City Royals' sixth straight victory, 5-0 over San Francisco Giants on Saturday night.
"I was just saluting the bullpen, man," Shields said. "They've done a phenomenal job for us, saving our behinds all year long. It's nice to give them a day off. It just a nice little salute to the bullpen, tell them to take a day."
Alex Gordon homered for the Royals, who have won nine of 10 to move within 1½ games of AL Central-leading Detroit. The Royals, who have not made the playoffs since beating St. Louis in the 1985 World Series, are in second place in the AL wild-card standings.
Shields (11-6) gave up three singles in the first four innings. He allowed only two Giants to reach second base. He walked Joe Panik in the fifth and he moved to second on a wild pitch with two outs, but was stranded. Panik doubled in the eighth.
"He's got good stuff," said Buster Posey, who went 0-for-4 and struck out once against Shields. "That's about it. He's been good for a while."
It was Shields' ninth career shutout, his first since Sept. 9, 2012.
Tim Hudson (8-9) gave up the home run to Gordon to lead off the fifth inning on Nebraska Night at Kauffman Stadium. Gordon is a Lincoln, Nebraska, native and was the college player of the year in 2005 as a junior with the Cornhuskers. Was it a coincidence Gordon homered on Nebraska Night?
"I go deep all the time. What are you talking about?" Gordon deadpanned before laughing. "It was a good crowd. It just energized all the players. It added excitement and energy. There was a lot of [Nebraska] red tonight, so that was good to see."
Hudson yielded three straight hits to start the four-run seventh and was replaced by Jeremy Affeldt. The inning included Mike Moustakas' run-producing double while Lorenzo Cain, Alcides Escobar and Jarrod Dyson had RBI-singles.
Hudson was charged with three runs and six hits in six-plus innings. Affeldt, who had held the opposition scoreless in his previous 13 outings, faced four batters and gave up two runs and three hits.
"They're playing very well," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said of the Royals. "When you play good teams, you have to play your best ball. Last night we let it get away. Tonight we just ran into a well-pitched game."
Giants: Catcher Hector Sanchez, who went on the concussion list July 26, suffered a setback Friday when he left a rehab game with Triple-A Fresno after taking a hard shot off the mask. "He'll have to get some tests," Bochy said. "There's some concern there." Bochy said it might be necessary for Sanchez to change masks, abandoning the hockey mask.
Royals: First baseman Eric Hosmer remains sidelined with a broken right hand.
Giants: Tim Lincecum has faced the Royals only once in his career: in 2008 when he allowed five runs in five innings in a no-decision that the Giants lost 11-10.
Royals: Danny Duffy is holding left-handed hitters to a .146 average this season and opponents to a .189 average at Kauffman Stadium.
GO DANNY GO
The Royals were watching the Toronto Blue Jays' victory over Detroit in the clubhouse before their game Saturday. Ex-Royal Danny Valencia scored the winning run from first base on a double in the 10th inning. "Go Danny go," Dyson shouted as Valencia rounded third.
Shields is 13-3 with a 2.49 ERA in August since 2011. The 13 August victories in that span matches Zack Greinke for the most in the majors.
The Giants are 20-34 in their past 54 games, the third-lowest winning percentage in the majors. They were a major league-best 42-21 on June 9 with a 9½ game lead in the NL West.