Before Friday night’s game, manager Robin Ventura warned the White Sox about the dangers of looking ahead to next week’s four-game series against the Tigers.
“People want to talk about Detroit, but we’re making sure these guys remain focused on the Royals because it’s a quick way to lose some games if you focus on other things,” Ventura said.
“They’re good; they’re playing well. You’ve got to make sure you’re focused on the right stuff.”
The Sox have lost seven straight to the Tigers, but they’ve been equally out of focus against pesky Kansas City.
That trend continued Friday at U.S. Cellular Field.
Overcoming another erratic outing from starting pitcher Francisco Liriano, the White Sox mounted three rallies to tie the Royals but never came through with the really big hit.
And with the score deadlocked in the ninth inning, Lorenzo Cain hit his second home run of the game — a 2-run shot off closer Addison Reed — to lift K.C. to a 7-5 victory.
“If they get solid starting pitching … they’ve always had a really good bullpen and they’ve always been able to swing the bats,” Paul Konerko said. “Of late, they’ve been really good pitching, starting-wise, so they’re just as formidable as anybody.
“We realize that, and we certainly don’t go into games taking them lightly, so it’s no surprise to us.”
The Royals (62-76) have won six straight against the Sox (74-63).
“They’re a scrappy team,” said Reed (3-2), who was burned by a hanging slider to Cain. “One through 9, they can all hit. They give everybody trouble.
“They’re a good team. The standings don’t show at all how good they are.”
The Royals were able to take advantage of Liriano, who pitched 5 innings and allowed 5 runs on 6 hits. The left-hander also issued 4 walks, and the last two wound up scoring.
In his last 4 starts, Liriano has allowed 18 walks in 20 innings.
“I’m just missing my spot,” said Liriano, repeating a familiar refrain. “Sometimes the ball is way outside, way in, way down or way up. I’m trying to find my release spot and getting behind in the count. It’s tough to go out there and pitch like that, walking too many guys and getting behind in the count.
“I feel like I’m not doing my job right now. It’s kind of frustrating. I’m trying to do the best I can right now. It happens. I just feel like I’m not doing my job right now.”
The White Sox got solo home runs from A.J. Pierzynski and Dewayne Wise and a 2-run shot from Alexei Ramirez, but they struggled in the clutch again while going 2-for-12 with runners in scoring position.
In the eighth, Pierzynski led off with a single and Dayan Viciedo was hit by a pitch.
Ramirez bunted pinch runner Jordan Danks to third base and Viciedo to second, but Gordon Beckham struck out, Alejandro De Aza was intentionally walked, and Jose Lopez popped out to end the rally.
“We can get them on, but we are having problems getting them in,” Ventura said. “You know, you get frustrated. It’s one of those games where you had plenty of opportunities and don’t knock them in.
“Then you give them opportunities by giving them free baserunners.”
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