CHICAGO -- Good news for the White Sox on Sunday came from the Tigers losing yet again in Anaheim, dropping Detroit to 1-5 since sweeping the South Siders at Comerica Park last weekend.
The bad news was that the White Sox (75-64) were unable to take advantage of that Tigers' setback due to their own 2-1 defeat suffered in 10 innings to the Royals (63-77) at U.S. Cellular Field. That loss leaves the White Sox magic number at 22 to eliminate the Tigers (73-66) from the American League Central race and holds their division lead at two with the Tigers coming to town Monday for a possible division-deciding four-game series.
Maybe the best news of the afternoon, though, lies in the fact that the White Sox only have three games left against Kansas City from Sept. 18-20 at Kauffman Stadium. This latest Royals victory gave them a 10-5 record against the White Sox this season, a 7-1 mark in their last eight head-to-head games and a 10-1 record in the Royals' last 11 played against the White Sox and Tigers.
"Our pitchers did what they needed to do," said White Sox manager Robin Ventura, after his team fell to 3-3 on this 10-game homestand. "Situationally, we didn't do what we wanted to do offensively, running the bases, all that kind of stuff. It was a bad day all the way around."
"It was one of those days where it got away from us," said White Sox second baseman Gordon Beckham.
Following nine scoreless innings, the Royals managed to push across two in the top of the 10th. That winning rally started after A.J. Pierzynski threw out Alcides Escobar trying to steal second for the inning's second out with Billy Butler at the plate and Brett Myers on the mound.
Myers' struggles facing the Royals are representative of the team. Factoring in Sunday's effort, the right-hander has allowed 12 runs on 18 hits over 3 1/3 innings against Kansas City this season.
"Everything was finding a hole," Myers said. "It seems like every time I face them, balls find the holes and stuff like that. I don't necessarily think the quality of the pitches are bad. They are just putting the bat on it and finding holes and being able to score runs."
"I don't know what it is, but we've done a nice job against him," said Royals manager Ned Yost of their success against Myers. "The numbers are pretty staggering."
That two-run lead was sliced to one in the bottom half of the frame, when Greg Holland (13th save) walked A.J. Pierzynski and Orlando Hudson and gave up a run-scoring double to Beckham on an 0-2 pitch. But with runners on second and third and one out, Holland took advantage of the 5 o'clock ballpark shadows and struck out Alejandro De Aza and Ray Olmedo.
Olmedo replaced Alexei Ramirez in Sunday's starting lineup, when Ramirez showed up late to the ballpark and was scratched. Ventura said Ramirez will be back in the starting lineup Monday against Detroit.
"Unfortunately for us, the shadows really played a huge part in that last inning," Beckham said. "It's like it was yesterday, and for three innings, nobody got a hit yesterday. It was tough to see, and Holland, he's got a great slider.
"He's throwing 98 mph. He's really good. It wasn't meant to be. We gave it a run. We didn't die after they scored two runs. That was commendable for us."
Those first eight innings saw Royals starter Jeremy Guthrie and a trio of White Sox rookies in Hector Santiago, Brian Omogrosso and Nate Jones dominate the hitters. Santiago worked four-plus in his second big league start, striking out a career-high eight and walking three, while throwing 93 pitches. He was replaced by Omogrosso in the fifth after walking ninth-place hitter Johnny Giavotella for a second time.
Omogrosso threw two hitless innings and Jones gave up one Lorenzo Cain single in his two innings of work. Santiago was pleased with his performance, although he knows working deeper into the game is key as a starter.
"Just too many foul balls and I'm walking too many guys," Santiago said. "Everything was working and I just couldn't get the early-count outs."
Guthrie was brilliant yet again against the White Sox, allowing six hits over eight scoreless. Guthrie struck out four and used only 97 pitches, giving him 23 2/3 innings against the South Siders this year without giving up an earned run.
His excellence got an assist from Alex Gordon throwing out De Aza at the plate in the first on Dewayne Wise's fly ball and Jeff Francoeur nailing Pierzynski as he tried to stretch a line single off the wall in right into a second-inning double, resulting in a five-throw rundown. Francoeur also threw out Ramirez trying to go from first to third on a Pierzynski single for the last out in the seventh.
The best White Sox chance for victory came when they loaded the bases with one out in the ninth against Tim Collins and Kelvin Herrera (3-2), only to have Alex Rios hit into an inning-ending double play. Now, they move on to Detroit, whose 10-4 record against the White Sox is on par with the Royals' 2012 dominance.
"We know it's important," said Beckham of facing the Tigers. "We're excited to play them at home and not in Detroit."