KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Bruce Chen pitched into the seventh inning, Alex Gordon hit a two-run double and the Kansas City Royals beat the AL Central-leading White Sox 3-0 on Wednesday night to snap Chicago’s five-game winning streak.
Billy Butler hit a sacrifice fly in the third inning, but that was it until Gordon connected off Chris Sale (17-7) with two outs in the seventh. Left fielder Dayan Viciedo couldn’t make the catch at the wall, allowing Eric Hosmer and Alcides Escobar to give Kansas City a cushion.
Chen (11-12) scattered five hits and three walks over 6 2-3 innings to win for just the second time in six starts. The crafty left-hander escaped a bases-loaded, no-out jam in the fourth and got some help from reliever Kelvin Herrera to get out of trouble in the seventh.
Herrera pitched around two base runners in the eighth, and Greg Holland yielded a two-out double in the ninth before finishing for his 14th save in 17 chances.
Escobar finished with three hits for the Royals, who staved off official elimination for one more day. The White Sox (81-67) had their division lead over Detroit trimmed to two games.
The White Sox, 3-2 winners in the series opener, wound up going 1 for 12 with runners in scoring position, stranding four at third base, four more at second and three at first.
Chicago will be happy to stop playing the Royals and start rooting for them.
Kansas City improved to 8-2 in their last 10 meetings by evening the three-game series, and a win in the finale Thursday night would make the Royals 6-1 in the teams’ last seven series.
They could become Chicago’s biggest ally down the stretch, though. Kansas City plays seven of its final 13 games against second-place Detroit, beginning with a four-game series Monday.
Chicago certainly wasted plenty of opportunities against Chen, who kept finding ways to use his high-80s stuff to great effect. The White Sox put runners on base in each of the first three innings to no avail, and then loaded the bases with none out in the fourth.
Viciedo fouled out, Alexei Ramirez popped out and Tyler Flowers struck out to end the threat.
Meanwhile, the Royals scratched out a run in the third on a sacrifice fly by Butler, and then bore down behind Hosmer’s leadoff double and Escobar’s intentional walk in the seventh.
After a brief visit at the mound, Sale remained in the game to face Gordon, and he walloped a pitch to the wall in left. It appeared that Viciedo would have room to make the catch, but the ball fell onto the track for a double, allowing two runs to cross and giving Kansas City a 3-0 lead.
That was enough to give the 23-year-old Sale his third loss against Kansas City – he’s only lost four other times this season. He’s also just 2-5 over his last seven road starts.
NOTES: Alejandro De Aza matched a career high with four hits for Chicago. He was a homer shy of the cycle. … LHP Francisco Liriano will pitch the series finale for Chicago against RHP Jeremy Guthrie. … Both managers announced their weekend rotations. The White Sox will go with Jake Peavy, Jose Quintana and Gavin Floyd against the Angels, while the Royals will start Luis Mendoza, Will Smith and Jake Odorizzi against Cleveland. Odorizzi will be making his big league debut.
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