An inning of defensive misplays that ended without an error, and a second three-run homer in three days allowed by a pitcher who hadn’t surrendered an earned run all season.
Those circumstances dragged the Royals into a hole deep enough to prevent escape in a 7-6 loss to the White Sox despite a late charge.
The Royals pushed across four runs over the final two innings to create drama, and the game ended with speedster Jarrod Dyson as the tying run at second base.
But Lorenzo Cain swung through Ronald Belisario’s fast ball, ending the game.
“You play to the last out. That’s what we did,” Royals designated hitter Billy Butler said. “It wasn’t enough.”
The Royals had sliced into a five-run deficit in the eighth with a three-spot that fell short of a monster rally when Mike Moustakas, who had lost his platoon role with Danny Valencia on Tuesday, stepped into a hero’s opportunity and couldn’t take advantage.
He popped out to third with one out and runners at the corners. Nori Aoki grounded out, ending the inning and rally that was fueled by Eric Hosmer’s leadoff double and Cain’s RBI single and hustle around the bases.
Turned out, a three-run homer by the White Sox muscle man Adam Dunn in the eighth off Aaron Crow was the difference. Dunn sent Crow’s offering 426 feet to dead center.Crow, who had a 0.00 earned run average entering Sunday, had gotten tagged by the Orioles’ Adam Jones on Sunday.
“Definitely a mistake,” Crow said. “Trying to go sinker down and away. I’ve struck out Adam a few times on sinkers down and away. I didn’t execute it.”
The shaky defense came in a head-scratching fifth inning.
The Royals had staked starter Yordano Ventura to a 2-1 lead, and the first mistake had nothing to do with defense. Ventura hung a breaking ball to Chicago’s No. 9 hitter, Tyler Flowers, who crushed it 411 feet to left and made it 2-2.
One of baseball’s best defenses over the past two years then got leaky.
Alex Gordon, a three-time Gold Glove winner, couldn’t get enough leather on Adam Eaton’s sinking line drive. Gordon charged, went into a feet-first slide, but he didn’t snag a ball on a difficult play Royals fans have come to see as routine.
Eaton had a double and went to third on a wild pitch. With Valencia playing even with the bag at third, he had no chance to snare Gordon Beckham’s high chopper that bounced into left.
The White Sox led 3-2 but weren’t finished. Beckham came around to score on sequence of wild pitch, ground out to the right side, and wild pitch.
Add it up, and that’s three wild pitches in the frame. On two of them, Ventura’s breaking pitches bounced before reaching catcher Brett Hayes.
“I was trying to make good-quality pitches,” Ventura said through interpreter Bruce Chen. “They went in the dirt, and it was hard for Hayes to block them.”
Hayes was playing for Salvador Perez, who is nursing a thumb injury. Earlier in the day, the Royals called up Francisco Peña, son of former Royals’ manager Tony Peña, from Class AAA Omaha for catching insurance.
Does Perez prevent the wild pitches, and perhaps keep Ventura from the loss, or at least from not getting a quality start — six innings with three or fewer earned runs?
The Royals mustered little against White Sox starter Andre Rienzo.
Last year, Rienzo became the first Brazilian-born player to record a major-league victory when he beat the Royals at Kauffman Stadium.
He won again on Tuesday, baffling Royals hitters on an array of off-speed stuff.
One hitter the White Sox didn’t fool was Valencia, who normally plays only against left-handed pitchers.
Tuesday, Royals manager Ned Yost went with Valencia against the righty Rienzo, and Valencia wasted no time taking his shot.
After Rienzo had walked Butler and hit Gordon, Valencia stepped up in an RBI spot and delivered both with a double to the right-center wall.
The Royals’ bats went silent after that until the eighth, and even then it wasn’t enough to prevent a second straight loss to the White Sox.
To reach Blair Kerkhoff, call 816-234-4730 or send email to email@example.com. Follow him at twitter.com/BlairKerkhoff.