KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Alcides Escobar keeps getting clutch hits after a sluggish start to the season.
Whit Merrifield’s sacrifice fly in the 10th inning scored Escobar to lift the Kansas City Royals to a 7-6 victory over the Chicago White Sox on Friday night.
Escobar led off the 10th with a single. He also doubled and scored in the second. He is hitting .336 in his past 35 games to raise his average from .178 to .236.
“It’s exciting man, scoring the winning run, starting the inning with a base hit,” Escobar said. “I say, ‘This is the inning.’ We need only one run and Whit hits the sacrifice fly.”
The Royals, who trailed 5-1 after two innings, got their third walk-off victory in five days. The White Sox have lost seven straight and 10 of 11.
“Just keep fighting, like 2015 when we’d get down four or five runs and we’d score six runs and win the game.” Escobar said.
Alex Gordon had three hits and drove in three Royals runs, while Merrifield also had a two-run double in the fourth.
White Sox manager Rick Renteria opted to use a six-man infield and a two-man outfield with Merrifield at the plate and the bases loaded with nobody out in the 10th.
“We tried to get a little creative there at the end, see if we can get a ground ball and maybe get an out, then put us back to a normal defense, but it just didn’t work out,” Renteria said.
Neftali Feliz (1-0), the seventh Kansas City pitcher, picked up the win, throwing seven pitches in a scoreless 10th.
Tyler Clippard (1-6), who was acquired in a Tuesday trade with the New York Yankees, took the loss in his White Sox debut.
Mike Moustakas ended a 41 at-bat homerless drought with his 26th home run in the fourth.
Kelvin Herrera, the sixth Royals pitcher, worked around a ninth-inning double to Adam Engle to keep the game tied.
Anthony Swarzak then gave up a single and a walk in the bottom half, but retired Moustakas on a popup on a 3-0 pitch to end the threat.
Yoan Moncada, who is ranked the No. 1 prospect in baseball, drove in four runs in his second game with the White Sox. His grounder in the second scored Avisail Garcia with the first Chicago run.
Moncada’s laser triple to left with the bases loaded in the fourth scored Jose Abreu, Garcia and Matt Davidson. It came on Ian Kennedy’s 0-2 pitch and gave the White Sox a 5-1 lead.
Neither Kennedy nor White Sox starter James Shields could make it through five innings.
Kennedy, who is winless in his last 13 Kauffman Stadium starts since Aug. 20, was removed after four innings and one batter, allowing six runs on six hits and two walks.
Shields, who is 0-1 with a 9.60 ERA in three July starts, permitted six runs on 10 hits, including Moustakas’ homer. Shields has allowed 23 hits, including five home runs, in 15 innings this month.
“Nobody wants to lose in this clubhouse,” Shields said. “We’re still fighting. We’re still competing. We’re playing the game as hard as we possibly can right now. The games aren’t going our way right now. So, we’ve got to just keep grinding it out.”
Royals 1B Eric Hosmer was not in the lineup as manager Ned Yost said he was out of town for an undisclosed family matter. Hosmer, however, arrived during the game and struck out as a pinch hitter in the fourth inning.
Royals: RF Jorge Bonifacio has a bruised left foot after fouling a ball off it Thursday and did not start, but walked as a pinch hitter in the ninth. . OF Paulo Orlando (fractured left tibia) began a rehab assignment with Double-A Northwest Arkansas.
White Sox: RHP Mike Pelfrey is 0-2 with a 6.62 ERA, with opponents batting .300 in his past four starts.
Royals: All-Star LHP Jason Vargas has a 14.09 ERA in two July starts with opponents slugging .973 off him, allowing five home runs, two triples and two doubles in 7 2/3 innings.
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