CHICAGO -- The American League Central-leading Royals opened the second half of the 2015 season with a 4-2 victory over the White Sox on Friday afternoon at U.S. Cellular Field. The contest marked the first of a split doubleheader, and the first of four to be played in Chicago this weekend.
"We use [the bullpen] like that just about whenever we can," said Royals manager Ned Yost. "It just shortens the game to five innings if you have the lead. And it worked out perfectly today."
Jeff Samardzija took the loss, yielding four runs on seven hits over seven innings. He struck out three and walked three, while allowing homers to Alex Rios and Mike Moustakas. Samardzija has not walked more than three in any start this season, and Friday marked just his fourth start with three walks.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Work it: In the fifth inning, Moustakas battled through 11 pitches and worked a full count against Samardzija before sending the 12th pitch out of the park for his eighth home run of the season to break a 1-1 tie.
"He won that game for them today, the way he battled, took a walk, battled and hit a homer to take the lead," Samardzija said of Moustakas. "He was a tough out out there today. We'll go out there against them with a little different game plan."
Going deep:Geovany Soto connected off Young to lead off the third, tying the game at 1 with his fifth homer of the season. After Moustakas went deep in the fifth, Adam Eaton increased his single-season career high to seven homers by clearing the right-field wall on a 0-1 pitch with two outs in the bottom half of the frame.
Give me another: Kansas City added another home run, this one off the bat of Rios in the sixth inning. It was just his second home run of the season, both of which have come against the White Sox. His first was on Opening Day.
"We were looking for a little bit of a boost from Alex in the [first] half right before he broke his hand," Yost said. "He could give us more offense in the bottom of the order, which is key."
Sixth-inning trouble: The White Sox put runners on second and third with one out against Madson in the sixth, but they couldn't bring them around to score. Alexei Ramirez grounded out back to the pitcher, and Soto did the same to end the inning.
"You kick yourself when you get those missed opportunities," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "We had second and third there a couple of times and didn't cash in at all. The way today was playing, it was a pretty good offensive day. If you can get a hold of it and get it in the air, it was going to go. We got a couple in there, but you didn't get the ones you needed with a guy on base."
"I took my time out there. I didn't realize it was that hot until the second or third inning. You just kind of tell yourself, 'Slow down,' and it makes every pitch that more important. You don't want to stand out there for 20, 30 pitches and start sweating. You're going to lose the ball and a lot of control, so you want to be quick and get back in that dugout as quick as possible." -- Samardzija, on pitching in a game-time temperature of 92 degrees
"You're just trying to battle. A guy like that, throwing the stuff he's got, you're just trying to fight. You're trying to do everything you can to make contact, to put the ball in play." -- Moustakas, on his approach against Samardzija
Young left after five innings and 82 pitches, his second-shortest outing of the season as a starter. Following the game, Yost noted Young was removed once "his back started to get tight" to avoid the risk of further injury. Both Young and Yost emphasized they are not worried about the issue being anything bigger.
"Arm-wise, it felt good," Young said. "Rhythm was a little off, but when the back locked up, I don't know if it was the break or being out of the routine. But it will be fine. It's no fun when it gets that way."
Samardzija has worked at least seven innings in 11 of his past 12 starts. That streak includes eight straight games.
With two outs in the second inning, Chicago's Avisail Garcia was quick to motion to his dugout for a challenge after he was called out attempting to steal second base. Ventura hesitated before asking for the video replay, but the call on the field stood and the inning ended.
"Yeah, he wasn't all that quick to home plate, and you're trying to get those guys going," Ventura said. "Their guy made a good throw."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin and listen to his podcast. Greg Garno is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.