KANSAS CITY -- The beat goes on for Jeremy Guthrie. He just won't be beat.
Guthrie zipped through his 17th consecutive start for the Royals without a loss, going the distance in a 2-0 victory over the Chicago White Sox on Saturday night at Kauffman Stadium. The crowd of 19,957 saw him break Paul Splittorff's club record of 16 straight undefeated starts in 1977-78.
The four-hitter not only was the first complete game in Guthrie's streak, it was also his first career shutout.
"It's just something I'd never been able to accomplish. Had a few opportunities, so it's really special to go out there in the ninth inning and hear that little roar from the crowd. It was really cool and backed me up," Guthrie said.
He needed just 106 pitches for the fifth complete game of his career. He issued one walk and struck out three.
"He was just magnificent," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "He had everything going tonight -- he had great movement, great action, great location, great stuff."
After the first inning, he kept working with the two-run lead that Lorenzo Cain's triple gave him.
Guthrie had a two-hitter going until the eighth when two singles gave Yost a decision to make with two out and the go-ahead run at the plate in the person of Jeff Keppinger. The Royals had Tim Collins and Kelvin Herrera working in the bullpen.
"Ninety-nine times out of a hundred, I'm going to take the pitcher out there," Yost said.
Yost went to the mound for a brief conversation. Was his pitcher staying in?
"I wasn't sure," Guthrie said. "I knew we had guys warming up, I could hear the popping of the glove down there so I thought it was either way. I think it was more for him -- he wanted to come out there and pump me up and give me a vote of confidence. He said, 'Can you get this guy?' and I said, 'Let's go for it.'"
Keppinger grounded out. When the top of the ninth came around, Yost had another decision. Should he bring closer Greg Holland into the game? Or should he stick with Guthrie?
"It entered my mind about 150 times from the second inning on -- what was I going to do with a two-run lead?" Yost said. "Trust me. You foresee some things."
He also could remember something.
"In the back of my mind, I knew that Jeremy Guthrie had never thrown a complete-game shutout in his big league career and if he was going to do it, tonight was going to be the night," Yost said.
So he cruised through a 1-2-3 ninth and had finished off the White Sox in a tidy two hours, 18 minutes.
Nothing the White Sox tried against him worked.
"We were trying to get to him early and that didn't work either," first baseman Adam Dunn said. "He's in a groove right now. When you have a guy with that many pitches and a good fastball, you can't guess. He'll use any pitch in any count."
Guthrie's undefeated streak is the longest alive in the Majors. It began on Aug. 8, 2012, his fourth start for the Royals. It was also over the White Sox, a 2-1 decision in which he worked eight shutout innings. He gave up five hits and no walks.
He had lost his first three after being obtained from the Colorado Rockies in a trade last July 20 for left-hander Jonathan Sanchez, whose career has gone in the other direction. He's 0-6 in eight games since the trade and was recently let go by Pittsburgh.
But Guthrie's 17 starts have included a personal record of 9-0, and the Royals have won 15 of those 17 games.
This one began with the Royals scoring twice in the first against right-hander Dylan Axelrod. There were two outs when Billy Butler was hit by a pitch and Eric Hosmer singled to left field. Cain sent both runners home with a triple down the right-field line that just eluded the diving Alex Rios.
"He was making plays on everybody in right field today," Cain said. "He almost caught mine as well -- but it fell in, I got a triple and that was the difference in the ballgame."
Then Axelrod got stingy. He forced the Royals to leave four runners in scoring position and pitched until there were two outs in the eighth.
"Axelrod was good, but Guthrie was better," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "He has been tough on us before, but tonight he was getting ahead and not giving us much."
Guthrie, 4-0 with a 2.40 ERA this season, was quick to disperse the credit for his shutout.
"We played really good defense early which made it all possible," Guthrie said and added: "The infield just made tremendous plays. It probably saved us three or four hits which accumulates to who knows how many pitches and who knows how many potential runs."
And when he made his final pitch, he pointed an appreciative finger at his catcher, Salvador Perez.
"You can't do it without a catcher that's on your page, that executes your game plan and he does it all the time," Guthrie said. "So I would point at him every single time I start, if it was appropriate. But he's so good back there and we feed off of him."
The Royals, after going through postponements the previous two nights, fed off Guthrie in this game and got their third straight win.
"Amazing, the guy was lights-out all night. The guy was locked in, had the hitters definitely off-balance all night," Cain said. "That's what we expect out of J. Guts, that's what he does."
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.