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Jake Peavy battles for six solid innings without best stuff in 5-2 win by Sox over Royals

Seasticket holder Jim Cabrerthrows out ceremonial first pitch before White Sox game U.S. Cellular Field Chicago Ill. Wednesday April 3

Season ticket holder Jim Cabrera throws out the ceremonial first pitch before the White Sox game at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago, Ill., on Wednesday, April 3, 2013. | Andrew A. Nelles~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: April 6, 2013 12:29AM

Jake Peavy has plenty of good things to say about the Kansas City Royals, a team that had his number the last seven times he faced it before Wednesday.

“That team is scrappy. I love their team, love their makeup, their manager,’’ he said. “They’re a great bunch of guys, and they play hard. They don’t strike out a bunch, either.’’

But it was easier to find things to like about the Royals after finally defeating them in a 5-2 victory boosted by a homer-happy Sox offense, a stingy bullpen and a gritty six innings from Peavy.

It was his first victory against the Royals since May 15, 2010, ending an 0-6 spell. The Royals gave the Sox fits last year, winning 12 of 18 meetings.

But as important as getting a second victory to start the season was getting the kind of performance from Peavy (1-0) that the Sox will count on during a season in which pitching figures to be what will hold things together.

He was overpowering in the first two innings, and had it not been for fielding errors in the third by shortstop Alexei Ramirez and left fielder Dayan Viciedo, the Royals wouldn’t have had a run off Peavy until they doubled twice in the sixth.

With five strikeouts in the first two innings, Peavy dusted away a spring training in which he went 0-2 with a 7.88 ERA.

“Jake is a bulldog,’’ manager Robin Ventura said. “[Two years] removed from his surgery, you see how far along he is. He throws a little bit harder than he did last year. His mind also is clearer, feeling pretty free and easy to go out and, when he wants to reach back and get a little extra, he can.

“Jake competes — he just competes,’’ Ventura said, praising Peavy for preventing a bigger inning in the third after the errors. “He just tried to get through [the inning] and minimize it. He’s a good pitcher and a great role model for all the young guys we have on the staff.’’

Peavy gave up four hits in six innings, with the Royals getting only one more off what has been a clamp-down corps of relievers in the first two games.

“Stuff-wise, today wasn’t great, but location was good and you’ve got to keep guys on their toes,’’ Peavy said. “You can’t stay with a certain pattern. You try to change it up enough but stay with what’s worked.

“I didn’t have great stuff by any means. Command-wise we were on point with throwing where we needed to throw it for the better part of the game,’’ he said. “And you’ll take that over ‘stuff’ any day to win.

“A win is a win, no matter what stuff you have,’’ he added. “To come away with a series win [with Thursday’s finale offering a possible sweep] against a team we haven’t played well against is big for this team going forward.’’

Catcher Tyler Flowers, as he did for Chris Sale on Monday, gave Peavy a double lift with another home run to go with his work behind the plate. All of the Sox’ runs came on homers. Adam Dunn, Viciedo (two-run shot) and Ramirez also went deep.

But Flowers gave credit to the man on the mound.

“We established the fastball really well early and then kind of mixed [pitches] off that,’’ he said. “It’s ­important for these guys [starters] to establish in and out and up and down, and the last two pitchers for us [Sale and Peavy] have done that.’’

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