After 5-2 loss vs. Royals, Sox only half-game ahead of hot Tigers
BY TONI GINNETTI Sun-Times Media August 7, 2012 11:42PM
Kansas City baserunner Alex Gordon beats the throw to Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski, scoring on a sacrifice fly in the sixth inning of the Chicago White Sox- Kansas City Royals game Tuesday August 7, 2012 at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times
Updated: September 9, 2012 6:27AM
CHICAGO — Close games have become the norm for the White Sox, and that can be a good thing in a pennant chase.
‘‘They’re used to it,’’ manager Robin Ventura said before the game against the Kansas City Royals. ‘‘They play a lot of close games, so the pressure is the same every day. It doesn’t set them back. It’s the way they play.’’
The Detroit Tigers also played a close one Tuesday, but they beat the New York Yankees while the Sox fell 5-2.
The results shrunk the Sox’s lead in the Central to a half game.
The Royals came from behind after the Sox and Jake Peavy took a quick 1-0 lead when Gordon Beckham delivered his first career leadoff homer facing Bruce Chen (8-9).
It was Beckham’s second homer in as many at-bats after his eighth-inning game-winner Monday night.
Peavy (9-8) held the Royals without a hit until the fourth, when Billy Butler doubled. But the Royals didn’t score until the sixth, when Alex Gordon led off with a single, stole second and scored on Mike Moustakas’ sacrifice fly.
Beckham scored again in the sixth after reaching on a walk and scoring on Adam Dunn’s single.
But Peavy ran into bigger problems in the seventh.
Jeff Francoeur led off with a bunt single toward third, advanced to third on Eric Hosmer’s one-out single and scored on Tony Abreu’s single.
Abreu then scored when Gordon beat a throw to first from Beckham.
Peavy entered the game on extra rest and had been pitching well at U.S. Cellular Field (2-1 with a 1.82 ERA in his last five home starts).
But he exited trailing 3-2 after allowing seven hits, walking three and striking out four.
Butler added to the Royals’ lead in the eighth, hitting his career-high 22nd home run off Nate Jones, with Moustakas scoring ahead of him after reaching on a walk from reliever Leyson Septimo.
The Sox had been playing well through a series of close games on the homestand, first against the contending Los Angeles Angels, then against the Royals. They split two extra-inning games against the Angels but won the three-game series with a 4-2 victory Sunday.
They beat the Royals on Monday by the same score.
‘‘It’s going to get tougher,’’ Paul Konerko said. ‘‘The games get tougher as you get later into the season, but what we’re doing right now, I think, holds up. The way we’re playing, the way we’re going about it, holds up.
‘‘Lately we’ve had usually that one inning — you stop a rally and you cut them off from scoring and give yourself the chance to win the game.’’
The Sox entered the game having won 13 of their last 15 at home, hitting .304 in those games and scoring 97 runs.
They also have been drawing larger crowds.
‘‘We love coming home,’’ Beckham said. ‘‘There’s a calmness we have when we’re here. The fans are coming out and supporting us. That’s been a lot of fun, to have fans in the stands every night. We’re getting to crunch time. We need them as much as ever.’’
The Sox are averaging 31,611 in the last eight games, including Tuesday’s crowd of 27,194.