Royals 7, White Sox 1

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CHICAGO (AP)—Time’s running out on the Chicago White Sox—and Esteban Loaiza’s bid to win 20 games.

Brian Anderson kept Kansas City’s slim playoff hopes intact Saturday night by outpitching Loaiza as the Royals beat the White Sox 7-1 in what has become a battle for second in the AL Central.

“It’s still not over. As long as you have a chance, you got to keep going,” Royals manager Tony Pena said.

The loss knocked the White Sox 4 1/2 games behind first-place Minnesota. The Royals trail the Twins by 5 1/2 . Chicago and Kansas City each have just eight games left.

Loaiza failed for his third straight start to get the elusive 20th victory and will probably get two more chances—Wednesday at home against the Yankees and perhaps in the season finale next Sunday in Kansas City.

“If it comes, it comes,” Loaiza said.

“I’ve been trying for three starts already and hopefully have two more starts at the end of the season. I want to get my 20th. I’ve been working hard. It’s just one of those things.”

Anderson (13-11) allowed just five hits, and is 4-1 in his six starts since joining the Royals on Aug. 25.

He’s also 4-1 this season against the White Sox, his first three wins coming while he was with the Indians.

“I have just come over and tried to go about my business the same way I did with Cleveland,” Anderson said. “I can tell you one thing: The nights that I have pitched, our offense has been alive and well.”

Kansas City scored three runs in the third against Loaiza (19-9), the AL All-Star game starter. Loaiza allowed three runs, seven hits and walked three in six innings.

Desi Relaford’s single and two walks loaded the bases in the third before Mike Sweeney and Raul Ibanez hit RBI singles. Joe Randa added a run-scoring grounder, giving the Royals a 3-1 lead.

Singles by Angel Berroa and Carlos Beltran, a double steal and a passed ball put the Royals ahead 4-1 in the seventh. Ibanez added a sacrifice fly for a four-run cushion.

Rondell White hit a two-run single in the ninth.

Frank Thomas’ 41st homer—giving him 100 RBIs for the 10th time in his career—staked Loaiza to a 1-0 lead in the first.

But he couldn’t hold it and the White Sox—swept by the Twins earlier in the week—are teetering. Minnesota’s magic number is four.

“We’re definitely in trouble, no doubt about that,” White Sox manager Jerry Manuel said. “How much life do we have left? We’re definitely on some survival machines, that’s for sure.”

Loaiza went just 2 1-3 innings in his last start against the Twins.

“This is the end of the year and he’s been around the league and people are studying him and figuring out how to attack him,” Manuel said. “They’re putting some decent swings on him.”

Pena saw a different pitcher than the one who beat the Royals twice this season.

“He pitched great against us early in the year,” Pena said. “Today, you could see he was a little bit tired.”

The White Sox threatened in the sixth when Roberto Alomar singled and Thomas walked with no outs, but Magglio Ordonez hit into a double play and Carlos Leegrounded out.

Notes

Thomas’ homer was the 93rd of his career in the first inning, including nine this season. … The Royals had two embarrassing moments. White fell down as he made the turn around first after singling in the fourth and was tagged out in a rundown. And shortstop Berroa forgot how many outs there were in the bottom of the fourth. With one out, he took a flip from second baseman Relaford on an easy double-play grounder. But after stepping on second, he began to run to the dugout instead of making a relay to first. It didn’t cost the Royals because Paul Konerko grounded out to end the inning. … Loaiza threw 107pitches. … Anderson’s complete game was his second since joining the Royals.

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