No matter how good James Shields is the Royals can’t seem to provide him with an easy night. Don’t be deceived by the final score either. Friday night was typical Shields outing except for one thing:

He got the winning decision when the Royals opened a three-game weekend stay at U.S. Cellular Field by pulling away late for a 5-1 victory over the Chicago White Sox.

“It’s always good when you’re throwing up zeroes” he said “but it’s a grind. It’s (been) a grind all season. I’m glad we got the win and glad I pitched well today.”

More than well.

Shields 5-7 worked seven shutout innings before handing a two-run lead to the bullpen. He gave up eight hits all singles and has now permitted only five runs this season to the White Sox in 26 innings over four starts.

Kelvin Herrera retired the first two hitters in the eighth before serving up a homer to Conor Gillaspie whose line drive to right just cleared the wall.

So it was white-knuckle time ... until the Royals answered with three runs in the ninth against relievers Matt Lindstrom and David Purcey.

After Billy Butler opened the inning with a walk against Lindstrom Jarrod Dyson entered the game as a pinch runner and immediately stole second.

“Walks usually come back to hurt” Butler said. “Late in the game in a tight game those are little things that are big things.”

Dyson moved to third on Salvy Perez’s single through the left side -- after holding up long enough to make sure the ball got into the outfield.

Lorenzo Cain and Mike Moustakas followed with RBI singles which turned a one-run lead into a three-run cushion. In came Purcey who retired Elliot Johnson on a pop-up.

David Lough followed with a knuckling fly to left that Casper Wells just inserted for defense simply dropped. The scoring was a sacrifice fly an error and resulted in a four-run lead.

The three-run ninth meant the Royals 49-51 turned to Luke Hochevar to finish off their fourth straight victory instead of closer Greg Holland.

“We’ve got an All-Star closer” manager Ned Yost said. “We feel good with a one-run lead. But a two-run lead you’re feeling really good. Then when we got three (in the ninth) we moved it to Hoch.”

The Royals built a 2-0 lead for Shields on Lough’s leadoff homer in the third inning and Miguel Tejada’s sacrifice fly in the seventh after a leadoff double by Perez.