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Guthrie golden as Royals take Series lead

SAN FRANCISCO — Jeremy Guthrie walked onto the field in the middle of the first inning, got behind the mound and saw what he described as a “sea of orange.”

After pitching for two colleges, three minor league teams and four major league clubs, after finishing with a losing record in five of his first six big league seasons, after enduring four consecutive last-place finishes, he had made it to baseball’s pinnacle: the World Series.

“It felt like I was doing something that I didn’t even dream of,” he would say later. “A lot of people say they dreamed of playing in the World Series. I don’t think I had that dream. But now to live it, it feels right, and it feels like a moment that I’ll never forget.”

On Friday night at age 35, the end of his baseball career far closer than the beginning, he pitched shutout ball into the sixth inning and got the win in Kansas City’s 3-2 victory over the San Francisco Giants, which gave the Royals a 2-1 Series lead.

He also accomplished a first: No starting pitcher in the 111-year history of the World Series had ever before gotten a win without any strikeouts or walks.

“What you saw tonight is what I’ve seen just about every time he goes out on the mound in the last three years,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “He does his homework. He’s prepared physically. His work ethic is tremendous. He’s a tremendous competitor. He’s not scared when he steps on the mound.”

Guthrie outpitched fellow Series newcomer Tim Hudson and four Royals relievers combined on four hitless innings to lead Kansas City.

Alex Gordon hit a run-scoring double and Lorenzo Cain made two slick grabs in right field as the Royals backed Guthrie with nifty glove work. All night long, Kansas City looked perfectly comfortable playing in the tricky territory at unfamiliar AT&T Park.

Eric Hosmer had a sixth-inning RBI single on the 11th pitch of his at-bat against lefty Javier Lopez. It was the first World Series hit for Hosmer — on his 25th birthday.

Cain drove in the first run with a groundout after Alcides Escobar’s leadoff double.

Game 4 is tonight, with right-hander Ryan Vogelsong scheduled to pitch for the Giants against lefty Jason Vargas.

“We’ve got to keep grinding. It’s going to be a tough series,” said Royals center fielder Jarrod Dyson, added to the starting lineup in Game 3.

Yost moved Cain from center to right in place of Nori Aoki for a defensive upgrade in the expansive outfield at AT&T Park. Cain chased down Buster Posey’s slicing line drive in the first for a pretty catch from his knees, then snagged Travis Ishikawa’s sinking liner in the second.

“A lot of people are coming up to me and saying they can’t believe how good our defense is, but it’s been that way all year long,” Cain said.

Gordon was moved up from sixth to second in the lineup and came through with his RBI double following Escobar’s single in the sixth.

On a night that began with a remembrance of late Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn, a cast of Giants Hall of Famers were celebrated on the field in a star-studded pregame ceremony featuring a “Play Ball!” chant by Huey Lewis.

But the Royals seemed unfazed by the fanfare and tough conditions in improving to 5-0 on the road this postseason.

The Giants had their six-game home winning streak in the World Series snapped. The unbeaten run dated to the 2002 club led by Barry Bonds that lost in seven games to the Angels.

Pinch-hitter Michael Morse hit an RBI double with none out in the sixth to chase Guthrie. Yost turned it over to his fantastic bullpen, and Kelvin Herrera immediately walked Gregor Blanco.

With the hard-throwing Herrera clocking 99-101 mph on the radar gun, Joe Panik had a tough time attempting a sacrifice bunt. His high-bouncing grounder still did the trick to advance both runners, and Posey pulled the Giants to 3-2 on a groundout.

Then, the Royals shut down San Francisco the rest of the way.

“I don’t know if there’s a better bullpen,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. “Hopefully you get some runs early, but Guthrie did a great job on us.”

Herrera worked 1 1-3 innings, rookie Brandon Finnegan got two outs in his World Series debut, and Wade Davis pitched a 1-2-3 eighth. Greg Holland got three quick outs for a save.

The four hitless innings of relief were the most in the World Series in 22 years.

“Our bullpen’s been lights out. We’ve got 100 percent confidence in them guys getting their job done,” Dyson said.

Guthrie, who attended nearby Stanford, retired 10 straight during one stretch and combined with Hudson to set down 20 in a row. That was the longest Series streak since the Yankees’ Don Larsen and the Brooklyn Dodgers’ Sal Maglie retired the first 23 batters during Larsen’s perfect game in 1956, according to STATS.

“What a gutsy performance,” teammate James Shields said. “He went out there and pitched his heart out.”

When Guthrie walked back on the field for a postgame interview, Royals fans behind the first-base dugout chanted his name. His mind was filled with emotions.

‘’Happiness, excitement, gratitude. I think those describe it as best I can do it,” he said. “A number of guys play a long time and don’t get a chance to do this.”

Jeremy Guthrie, a 1998 graduate of Ashland High, delivers a pitch against the San Francisco Giants in Game 3 of the World Series Friday. He worked into the sixth inning and got the win, 3-2. AP PHOTO