KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP)— Kansas City catcher Salvador Perez threw out Alex Rios at the plate and picked off Alexei Ramirez at third base, and the AL Central-leading Chicago White Sox kept missing chances Thursday night in a 4-3 loss to the Royals.

Eric Hosmer singled home the winning run with two outs in the ninth inning. The White Sox stayed two games ahead of Detroit, which lost in the afternoon to Oakland, with 13 games remaining.

Chicago wasted an early 3-0 lead and lost the sub-.500 Royals for the ninth time in their last 11 meetings.

Billy Butler led off the Royals ninth with a single against Jesse Crain (2-3). With two outs, pinch runner Jarrod Dyson stole second and Jeff Francoeur was walked intentionally. Matt Thornton relieved and Hosmer singled down the third base line.

Greg Holland (7-4) worked a scoreless ninth for the victory.

Rios tried to score with one out in the third when Jeremy Guthrie’s pitch rolled a few feet behind Perez. But Perez’s toss to Guthrie covering the plate beat Rios.

Perez nabbed Ramirez in the fourth for his fifth pickoff, most among major league catchers.

After going 1 for 12 with runners in scoring position in Wednesday’s 3-0 loss to Kansas City, the White Sox went 1 for 8 in those situations and stranded seven runners. Chicago is hitting .190 with runners in scoring position over the past 19 games.

The White Sox jumped out to a 3-0 lead, but failed to hold it.

Alejandro De Aza, Adam Dunn and A.J. Pierzynski singled in the first to take a 1-0 lead.

Guthrie committed a throwing error in the second that led to two unearned runs. He walked Dan Johnson and gave up an infield single to Alexei Ramirez, then didn’t cleanly come up with Gordon Beckham’s sacrifice bunt and made a wild throw to first that allowed a run to score. Dewayne Wise added an RBI grounder.

Francisco Liriano held the Royals to one hit the first four innings, but gave up a two-run triple to Johnny Giavotella in the fifth. The Royals tied it in the third when Butler’s double scored Alex Gordon. Butler has 99 RBIs, the most by a Royals player since Carlos Beltran’s 100 in 2003.

Guthrie left after six innings, allowing three runs, one earned, on eight hits. Guthrie is 4-0 with five no-decisions and a 1.75 ERA in his past nine starts, all of which the Royals have won.

NOTES: White Sox 1B Paul Konerko was held out of the lineup with a sore back. Rios replaced him in the cleanup slot. … Chicago 3B Kevin Youkilis, who was hitless in 11 at-bats and batting .133 in the past 17 games, was dropped from the second spot to the sixth slot. … The White Sox continue their trip with a weekend series at Los Angeles. RHP Jake Peavy will start Friday night against the Angels. He is 0-2 with a 5.04 ERA in four career starts vs. the Angels. … RHP Luis Mendoza, who had strep throat and was scratched from a Wednesday start, will start Friday for the Royals against Cleveland. … Perez has picked off a franchise-record eight in 104 career games. Darrell Porter held the club record with seven in 492 Royals games from 1977-80.

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