Rodon's 9 K's help White Sox pin down Royals

Rodon's 9 K's help White Sox pin down Royals

CHICAGO -- Time is running short on the defending World Series champions.

The Royals, desperately needing a winning road trip, lost their second straight by dropping a 7-2 decision to the White Sox on Friday night at U.S. Cellular Field. White Sox left-hander Carlos Rodon gave up six hits and one earned run through six innings while striking out a season-high nine.

The Royals, now 2-2 on this trip, remained four games back of the Orioles and Tigers, who are tied for the second spot in the American League Wild Card standings.

Adam Eaton had two doubles and two runs scored for the White Sox, while Tyler Saladino had three hits and two RBIs.

Saladino's two-run single

"Good, fundamental baseball always helps," Eaton said. "It's something that I think we've consistently lacked this year, but it was good tonight, for sure. Saladino had a heck of a game, adding on there late and getting on base, doing what he does. It's good. If we play some defense behind our pitchers, we're a good team."

Right-hander Yordano Ventura made it through seven innings for the Royals, giving up four earned runs and 10 hits.

"Overall, I felt pretty good," Ventura said through interpreter Pedro Grifol. "That one inning [fifth] got away from me. I got out of my approach. But I felt good. My goal was to keep the team [close] to win a ballgame."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
In the zone: Rodon's pitch count (116) got a little high, but he recorded his seventh straight quality start, dominating from the second through fifth innings and working out of a bases-loaded jam in the sixth. Manager Robin Ventura gave Rodon a chance to work out of that situation and it paid off. Rodon ended the threat with his season-high ninth strikeout on his 76th strike thrown. More >

"He's had some where I've taken him out, where he had a little more in the tank," Ventura said. "This just seems like it's gotten to that point where you can let him have a little bit more and he can find his way out of it. That's just part of the learning process."

Stay hot, Morales: Designated hitter Kendrys Morales gave the Royals a 2-0 lead in the first inning. Paulo Orlando reached on catcher's interference and went to third on Lorenzo Cain's bloop single. After Cain stole second, Morales poked a single to right, scoring both. Morales now has an 11-game hitting streak and 12 RBIs in his last four games.

Morales' two-run single

"Kendrys Morales had a tremendous bit of hitting -- 95-mph fastball and he got it to the outfield for a two-run single," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "But that was about it."

Setting the table: Chicago scored in the first, third and fifth innings, and each time one of the top two hitters in the order played a role. Eaton, the leadoff hitter, doubled and scored in the first and fifth on a sacrifice fly and a single by Melky Cabrera. Eaton scored the runs from third, thanks to shortstop Tim Anderson moving him over with ground balls both times. Anderson added an RBI single to tie it at 2 in the third and also scored on a go-ahead single by Jose Abreu.

Abreu's RBI infield single

"Huge," Eaton said of Anderson's groundouts. "It won't show up in the box score, but it instills confidence in us that the game is going on in his mind, and it's for the betterment of the team. It's a good thing to see out of a young player."

Missed chance: The Royals had a good shot to get close in the sixth when they loaded the bases. Alex Gordon singled with one out. Drew Butera walked with two out and pinch-hitter Whit Merrifield singled. But Rodon struck out Orlando for the third time.

"[Rodon] made some really good pitches," Yost said. "We didn't have a lot of run scoring opportunities. We had one in the fifth -- bases loaded and two out, and didn't take advantage."

MAJOR LEAGUE DEBUT
Royals right-hander Kevin McCarthy made his big league debut in the eighth inning with a runner on second and two out. McCarthy, a 13th-round pick in the 2013 Draft, got Anderson to ground out.

McCarthy makes MLB debut

WHAT'S NEXT
Royals: Right-hander Edinson Volquez (10-10, 5.02 ERA) gets the start in the middle game of the series on Saturday at 6:10 p.m. CT. Volquez gave up four runs and seven hits through 6 2/3 innings last Sunday in a 6-5 loss to the Tigers.

White Sox: Right-hander James Shields will face his his former team on Saturday at U.S. Cellular Field. Shields, whose sore back was cleared after an MRI, is 0-5 with a 12.07 ERA in his past seven outings.

Watch every out-of-market regular-season game live on MLB.TV.

Jeffrey Flanagan has covered the Royals since 1991, and for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter @FlannyMLB.

Brian Hedger is a contributor to MLB.com based in Chicago and covered the White Sox on Friday.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.