KANSAS CITY -- Right-hander Erik Johnson made his 2015 Major League season debut a memorable one by limiting the Royals to three runs over six innings and the White Sox held on for a 7-5 victory on Sunday to complete a three-game weekend sweep.
Johnson, the International League Most Valuable Pitcher this season, was called up on Sept. 1. He allowed all three runs on solo homers before departing with a 6-3 lead. The White Sox roughed up Johnny Cueto for five runs over three innings and led 6-1 before the Royals rallied with two in the sixth and two in the seventh.
"It's good to win in general, but Kansas City is a heck of a baseball team, it's a heck of a city they play in and a really good ballpark and fans," said White Sox leadoff man Adam Eaton, who had three hits and three runs scored, including his 12th homer. "Coming in, the atmosphere that they've had here and the success they've had this year and last year, it's good to take three from a very, very good team."
Cueto has lost four straight starts for the first time in his career. The first five White Sox hitters reached base and the White Sox had a 3-0 cushion before Cueto could record an out.
"It's kind of like a hitter who goes into a slump," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "He's just grinding through it right now without any results. But these things turn around quick, especially with a pitcher of Johnny's caliber."
Despite the loss, Kansas City's magic number for clinching the American League Central was reduced to 15 because the Twins lost to Houston. The Royals were swept for the first time since June 29-July 1 in Houston and for the first time at home since Aug. 29-31, 2014 against Cleveland.
"It's a long season and this stuff happens," Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer said.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Another fast start: For the second time in this three-game series, the White Sox scored three runs in the first inning. They got to Kris Medlen on Friday and did it against Cueto in the course of just five batters and 14 pitches. Eaton singled, Alexei Ramirez doubled, Jose Abreu singled home a run, Melky Cabrera walked and Avisail Garcia singled home two.
"Any time we jump out there, we seem to swing the bats a little better if we get it in the first inning," said White Sox manager Robin Ventura. "Today, I thought Eaton did a great job of starting it off with a base hit, and guys kept going. I don't know if Cueto had his best stuff today, but you have to take advantage of it when you can."
Salvy power: The evolving power surge of Salvador Perez was on display again as Perez put the Royals on the board with a solo shot in the second inning. Perez's 19th homer cleared the wall in right-center and tied him with Mike Macfarlane for fourth place on the club's single-season catcher list. Macfarlane hit 19 homers for Kansas City in 1996.
Little man can: Diminutive Jarrod Dyson hit his first wall-clearing homer of the season in the sixth inning. It was a no-doubt blast that got over the right-field wall with plenty of room to spare. Dyson came into the game with one homer, but that was an inside-the-park job that required Dyson to use his blazing speed.
"I ended up getting a good pitch up in the zone," Dyson said. "I put a good swing on it. I'm not a power guy. I just look forward to getting on base and keeping the line moving."
Pitcher, beware: Johnson made a triumphant return to the mound, despite allowing three solo home runs over six innings. But he also barely escaped a dangerous situation with two outs in the sixth, when part of Alex Gordon's broken bat struck him. Johnson appeared to block some of the impact with his glove and looked as if he would have stayed in the game, but a video review of the play overturned the original safe call and ended the inning. More >
Through a 4-2 start to September for the White Sox, Eaton is 13-for-24 with eight RBIs and four runs scored. Ramirez is 10-for-20 with seven runs scored and six RBIs.
"We've gotta empty the tank this month and October and leave it all out there," Eaton said.
"We are the streakiest team I've ever been on in my life. We go from winning five or six to losing five or six. Hopefully we can continue to win. You never know. There's still a chance for us to sneak in there." -- White Sox closer David RobertsonMore >
WHAT'S NEXT White Sox:Chris Sale (12-7, 3.29 ERA) makes his 27th start of the season and 15th at home, working against the Indians with one extra day of rest for a 1:10 p.m. CT first pitch at U.S. Cellular Field. Sale sits at 239 strikeouts and needs 31 to break Ed Walsh's franchise record of 269 set in 1908.
Royals: Right-hander Yordano Ventura (10-7, 4.24 ERA) has been on a roll lately and will try to keep it up as the Royals open a three-game home series against Minnesota on Monday at 7:10 p.m. CT. Ventura is 4-0 with a 1.13 ERA over his last five outings with 43 strikeouts and 13 walks. Ventura has had 11 strikeouts in each of his last two outings.
Robert Falkoff is a contributor to MLB.com. Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.