CHICAGO – The struggling Kansas City Royals knew they weren't going to get too many chances against Chris Sale.
So when the Royals had an opportunity to tie the game in the fourth inning against the White Sox they got aggressive. But true to the way things have been going recently for the Royals it backfired in their 3-1 loss Monday night.
Trailing by 2-1, Alcides Escobar, doubled down the left-field line and it appeared the score would be tied. But Danny Valencia was nailed at the plate as left-fielder Alejandro De Aza and Alexei Ramirez got the ball to catcher Tyler Flowers for the putout to end the inning.
Despite the result, manager Ned Yost stood by third-base coach Mike Jirschele's decision to send Valencia.
"Absolutely," Yost said. "If Danny's half a step faster he's safe. It was a good send."
Valencia went 1-for-2 with a RBI for Kansas City, which has dropped four straight and seven of eight. The Royals had a team meeting before the game, but couldn't turn around their fortunes as they dropped two games below .500 (48-50).
Royals starter Jeremy Guthrie (5-9) gave up three runs on five hits in six innings to get the loss. He had been 4-0 against the White Sox with the Royals before Monday and liked the Royals' effort but not the result.
"It's not enough. You need wins and I think this was a well-fought game against a very difficult pitcher. We didn't go in there and give up. I think we out-hit them. We had base-runners, we had chances," Guthrie said. "We took good swings and just didn't get any breaks late in the game."
The Royals also had a chance in the sixth with two men on against Sale, but Valencia and Escobar struck out to end the threat.
"(Sale) just finds a way," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "He's a great pitcher, but the competitive part of him gets him through when he might not have his best stuff."
In the bottom of the sixth, the White Sox regained the two-run edge as Adam Dunn scored on a sacrifice fly by Gordon Beckham to make it 3-1.
Sale (9-1) wasn't at his best, allowing seven hits and a walk in seven innings, but he worked out of jams in the fourth and sixth innings. He struck out eight and now has allowed three runs or less in 14 of his 15 starts this season. Jake Petricka pitched the ninth for his fourth save to give Sale the win in his first start after the all-star break.
"I had a lot of time off and I felt rested. I felt really good tonight," Sale said. "I got loose and I tried to throw strikes and be effective."
The Royals haven't been recently, though Yost liked some of what he saw Monday.
"I thought there was more energy. I thought we had better at-bats," Yost said. "I thought it was better today."
Notes: Royals 1B Eric Hosmer was scratched about an hour before game time with a right hand contusion. He was hit on the hand with a pitch by Boston Red Sox pitcher Jon Lester in Sunday's game at Fenway Park. . White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper is suffering from vertigo and missed a second straight game on Monday. Bullpen coach Bobby Thigpen took his place. ... KC's Salvador Perez was back in the lineup after sitting out Sunday with a groin strain. He originally was going to catch but switched to DH when Hosmer was scratched. "He feels much better," manager Ned Yost said. "He's not a speed demon to begin with. It's still probably going to affect him a little bit running, but he can catch and swing and do everything else." ... Abreu doubled in the seventh to extend his hitting streak to 12 games. ... LHP Bruce Chen (1-2) takes on Scott Carroll (4-5) in the second game of the series.