Kennedy propels Royals past White Sox

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[September 12, 2016]  CHICAGO -- The last thing Kansas City Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer wanted was to fall behind in the count against one of the best pitchers in baseball.

So on the first pitch of the sixth inning, Hosmer did not hesitate. He tracked a low pitch and swung hard for an opposite-field home run against Chicago White Sox left-hander Chris Sale.

The Kansas City Royals held on for a 2-0 win on Sunday afternoon.

"There's no question, guys are going up swinging," Hosmer said. "His changeup and slider (are tough), and then he pumps that fastball up there around 97 or 98 when you get behind on him. I think guys are trying to be aggressive and look for something good to hit early. Because if you get behind on a guy like Sale, there's not much chance you've got up there."

Kendrys Morales added a solo home run to increase his hitting streak to 13 games. Kansas City (74-68) won its second consecutive series and finished a six-game road trip with a 4-2 record.

Right-hander Ian Kennedy (11-9) pitched six strong innings to win his fifth straight decision. He did not allow a run on one hit and four walks. He struck out six.

Adam Eaton singled twice to mark the only two hits for the White Sox. Chicago (68-74) dropped to 4-11 this season against the Royals.

"We just didn't get anything going offensively," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "Even the inning where we got three walks, we had an opportunity, couldn't do anything with it. When you only get two hits, your guy does not have a very good chance to win the game."

Right-handers Peter Moylan, Kelvin Herrera and Wade Davis combined for three scoreless innings out of the bullpen. Davis recorded the final three outs for his 24th save.

White Sox left-hander Chris Sale (15-8) drew the loss despite pitching at least eight innings for the fifth start in a row. He allowed two runs on eight hits, walked one and struck out 12.

Sale credited catcher Alex Avila for his success.

"It's all about finding a groove," Sale said. "As a starting pitcher, you try to find a comfortable spot and stay there as long as you can. I felt like I had a good rhythm and tempo, working with Alex, bouncing back and forth. He got me through that one today."

Kansas City grabbed a 1-0 lead on Morales' 27th home run of the season and his fifth in the past six games. Morales belted Sale's first pitch of the second inning over the left-field wall.

Hosmer homered in the sixth inning to increase Kansas City's advantage. His blast carried just past the wall in left-center field for his 23rd home run of the season.

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Royals starting pitcher Ian Kennedy (31) smiles after getting the final out during the fifth inning at U.S. Cellular Field. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

Kennedy escaped a difficult spot in the third inning after he walked the bases loaded with two outs. Melky Cabrera ripped a fly ball to deep right field, but Whit Merrifield caught the ball in front of the warning track to end the inning.

Kennedy improved to 5-0 with a 2.45 ERA in his past seven starts.

"Kennedy was on top of his game," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "When he was missing, it was just missing. He really controlled his fastball well and (had a) good breaking ball, good changeup. Six strong innings, and then the bullpen took over from there."

Sale became the first player in White Sox history to strike out 200-plus batters in four straight seasons. He notched his 34th career game with at least 10 strikeouts, which also is a franchise record.

The strikeout numbers were nice, Sale said, but they did not erase the sting of losing.

"Do I appreciate it? Absolutely," Sale said. "But there's not a single part of me that wouldn't give all that to be in the playoffs four years in a row."

NOTES: Royals OF Lorenzo Cain will be shut down for one week to try to reduce swelling in his left hand. If the injury does not improve, the 30-year-old could miss the remainder of the regular season. Cain could not grip his bat with both hands in his most recent action Friday. He is hitting .287 with nine home runs and 56 RBIs in 103 games. "It's frustrating not to be out there on the field with them competing each and every day," Cain said. "I'm just trying to do whatever possible to strengthen it." ... White Sox SS Tim Anderson remained in the starting lineup despite jamming his left wrist one day earlier. ... Royals C Salvador Perez started his second straight game after missing two contests because of a bruised right wrist. ... White Sox C Alex Avila started for the first time in five games.

[ 2016 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.]

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