CHICAGO (AP) — Kansas City Royals manager Ned Yost likes to think his team has moved forward despite its 55-92 record this season. Its recent play vouches for that, at least for now.
Hunter Dozier hit a tie-breaking, three-run home run in the sixth, Jorge Soler had his third homer in two days and the Kansas City Royals beat nemesis Lucas Giolito and the Chicago White Sox 6-3 on Thursday.
The Royals have won four consecutive series for the first time since June 2017. They have eight victories in their last 11 games.
“Yeah, for sure,” Dozier said of the perceived improvement. “We have a lot of young guys on this team that are getting their feet wet, including myself. It has been a good year getting those guys more experience. Lately, we’re playing good baseball.”
Yost struck a cautious tone with a more difficult schedule ahead.
“We’re playing teams that we match up a little bit against now,” Yost said. “It’s a tough go from here. We’ll see what happens.”
After Whit Merrifield walked and Soler singled to start the sixth inning, Dozier drove Giolito’s 1-2 pitch into the left-field bleachers for a 5-2 lead. He also doubled in the eighth.
“That was the location I wanted, probably just the wrong pitch,” said Giolito, who entered the game with a 3-1 record and 2.32 ERA versus the Royals this season.
The homers spoiled a record performance by Giolito (14-9), who set a team mark with eight consecutive strikeouts in the third through fifth innings before Nicky Lopez grounded out to end the run. The streak was the seventh-longest in major league history. Joe Cowley and Carlos Rodón shared the previous White Sox record.
Giolito finished with 12 strikeouts in six innings. The right-hander allowed five runs on five hits and one walk as Chicago lost its fourth game in the last six.
“I didn’t realize it was eight (strikeouts) in a row,” Giolito said. “I thought it was six in a row. . So it was pretty cool.”
Jorge López (4-7) allowed three runs, two earned, on eight hits and two walks in 5 1/3 innings for the Royals. He struck out two.
Five Royals relievers combined for 3 2/3 innings of scoreless relief, although Gabe Speier and Ian Kennedy had to wiggle out of a bases-loaded jams in the seventh and ninth. Kennedy picked up his 29th save in 33 chances.
Soler opened the scoring in the first with his 43rd homer. The solo drive pulled him within one of the Los Angeles Angels’ Mike Trout for the American League lead.
The Royals extended their lead to 2-0 in the second, when Ryan McBroom singled, advanced to third on Melbrys Viloria’s double and scored on Erick Mejia’s sacrifice fly, his first RBI in the majors. Bubba Starling scored their final run on James McCann’s passed ball in the ninth.
The White Sox scored on José Abreu’s sacrifice fly in the fifth and Yolmer Sánchez’s sacrifice fly one inning later.
Chicago’s Daniel Palka snapped a 0-for-23 drought with a ground single to short right field in the sixth. His first hit since April 17 against Kansas City drew applause from supportive teammates in the dugout. He has two hits and 23 strikeouts in 57 at-bats this season.
“He’s actually had some better at-bats,” manager Rick Renteria said. “Hopefully, that’s the beginning of (a turnaround).”
LIKE OLD TIMES
The White Sox (64-82) will have to win at least nine of their final 16 games to avoid a third consecutive season of 90 or more losses, which they haven’t done since 1968-70.
Royals: While Yost said a day off might benefit a few regulars, he planned to play them against contenders that had yet to clinch playoff positions.
Royals: LHP Danny Duffy (6-6, 4.71 ERA) will take the mound against the first-place Houston Astros in Kansas City on Friday. He has five quality starts in his last seven tries at home.
White Sox: RHP Dylan Covey (1-8, 7.69) will bid to get back on track in the opener against the Mariners in Seattle on Friday.