Stop me if you’ve heard this one before.
By TOD PALMER
The Kansas City Star
The Royals got plenty of runners on base, but struggled to drive in runs Sunday as the Chicago White Sox claimed a 2-1 win and the series at Kauffman Stadium.
Wrapping up the first series since the All-Star break, White Sox All-Star left-hander Chris Sale scattered 10 hits and didn’t walk anyone in eight innings for his 11th victory of the season.
“He’s tough to hit, because he throws anywhere from 86 to 98 and he’s got this out-of-control slider that looks like Bugs Bunny is throwing it from the left side,” Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas said. “You’ve got to be able to battle. We managed to put the ball in play and get some hits, but just not the timely ones off of him.”
Fifth-inning singles by Moustakas, Chris Getz and Alex Gordon produced the only run for the Royals, who twice let Sale off the hook with inning-ending double-play groundouts.
Meanwhile, the AL Central-leading White Sox, whose lead is again 101/2 games over the Royals, nicked Royals starter Luis Mendoza early.
Resurgent slugger Adam Dunn swatted a home run for the third straight game. His major league-leading 28th round-tripper of the season — a solo shot — started the scoring in the first inning as he deposited a 2-0 changeup from Mendoza five rows deep in the right-field seats.
“I was trying to be very careful with Dunn after that,” Mendoza said. “He’s got too much power, so I tried to pitch around him a little bit. I didn’t want to walk him. I was trying to get him out, but I definitely wanted to work around him.”
It was the second time this season Dunn has homered in three consecutive games. He also did it June 9-12 against the Astros and Cardinals.
Mendoza, who dropped to 3-6 this season, took the loss despite allowing only four hits with six strikeouts in 71/3 innings. Two of his four walks were issued to Dunn in the plate appearances following his bomb.
An inning later, Mendoza loaded the bases with nobody out.
Alex Rios singled sharply between shortstop and third, then Mendoza plunked A.J. Pierzynski before Dayan Viciedo reached on an infield single a few feet left of the pitching mound.
The White Sox’s second inning could have been much worse were it not for Moustakas, who made a diving stab on an Alexei Ramirez grounder up the left-field line, tagged third base then scrambled to his feet and gunned the ball to Butler for a double play.
A run scored, but Moustakas’ latest defensive gem ensured limited damage.
“That was huge for me,” Mendoza said. “To get out of that inning with the double play and then the pop-out, that gave me more confidence. I tried to keep the game close.”
Still, that second run proved to be enough behind Sale, who improved to 11-2 and lowered his ERA to 2.11.
The Royals, who left eight runners on base, only had two 1-2-3 innings against Sale, but manager Ned Yost’s offense squandered a second-inning leadoff double by Lorenzo Cain, who remained at second three outs later.
“It’s a frustrating one, especially when our starting pitcher pitched the way he did,” said Cain, who batted cleanup with Eric Hosmer on the bench. “We got 10 hits, but the most important hits are the ones with guys on base, which is where we struggled a little bit.”
During the third inning, Gordon dropped a two-out double on the right-field line and went to third on Alcides Escobar’s infield single to second, but Butler struck out — one of four strikeouts for Sale — to end the threat.
Cain, who made a long run and crashed into the fence to snare Alejandro de Aza’s deep flyball in the eighth inning and save at least one run, also led off the fourth with a single.
He was erased that time on Jeff Francoeur’s double-play grounder to White Sox third baseman Kevin Youkilis.
The Royals broke through in the fifth on Getz’s RBI single to left. He later raced to third on Gordon’s opposite-field single with one out, but both runners were left stranded.
Finally, Escobar and Butler would lead off with back-to-back singles in the eighth inning as well, but Cain lined out to Dayan Viciedo and Yuniesky Betancourt followed with a meek double-play grounder back to Sale.
“(Cain) is swinging the bat so well, we gave him a chance and he hit a laser to left,” Yost said. “But we didn’t get many breaks. We smoked some balls, but we’re not getting many bounces going our way.”
Coming on for the ninth inning, White Sox closer Addison Reed worked around a two-out single by Salvador Perez for his 14th save.
To reach Tod Palmer, call 816-234-4389 or send email to email@example.com. Follow him at Twitter.com/todpalmer.