Royals suffer second straight shutout in 4-0 loss to White Sox

CHICAGO | It’s 18 innings and counting now since the Royals scored after Wednesday’s 4-0 loss to the Chicago White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field.

So, yes, this was another miserable night for the Royals on the Second City’s south side where they are 20-54 since the start of the 2001 season.

After Thursday afternoon, at least, the Royals don’t have to return here until next year. By then, maybe, general manager Dayton Moore can scrounge up another run-production bat or two.

The White Sox scored the only run they needed Wednesday on Jermaine Dye’s RBI double in the first inning against Luke Hochevar. Ken Griffey’s RBI single later in the inning — and everything that followed — was overkill.

Chicago starter Mark Buehrle, 10-10, departed after seven smothering innings. He allowed just five hits while striking out five and walking none.

It represented quite a turnaround.

Buehrle allowed eight runs and 14 hits in 4 1/3 innings when he faced the Royals on Aug. 2 when the heat index was 111 degrees for the first pitch at Kauffman Stadium.

This time, rain threatened throughout the evening but held off. The temperature was 71 degrees when Buehrle delivered the game’s first pitch.

The Royals found it far less pleasant.

Octavio Dotel and Bobby Jenks completed the shutout by retiring the final six hitters.

Hochevar, 6-11, lost his fourth straight decision and for the sixth time in seven decisions since July 1.

Even so, there were encouraging signs.

Hochevar allowed just three runs and five hits in seven innings in recording only his second quality start in his last eight outings. It was also just the second time in that span that he worked past six innings.

It was a performance strikingly similar to that turned in Tuesday by Brian Bannister, who allowed four runs and four hits in seven innings.

And just as unproductive.

Chicago scored its final run in the eighth inning on Paul Konerko’s two-out RBI single against Leo Nuñez.

The Royals haven’t scored since Tony Peña’s walk-off RBI single in the 12th inning last Sunday in a 5-4 victory over the Twins at Kauffman Stadium.

The victory kept the White Sox atop the American League Central Division by one-half game over second-place Minnesota. The Royals remained just one-half game behind Cleveland in their battle to avoid a fifth straight last-place finish.

The shutout was the 10th suffered this year by the Royals and marked the second time they failed to score in successive games. The Twins posted 5-0 and 2-0 victories on April 11-12 at Kauffman Stadium.

The Royals found themselves in a quick 2-0 hole for the second straight game.

Orlando Cabrera opened the Chicago first with a single to deep short, but Peña — starting for first time since July 30 — chose to throw anyway.

The throw sailed two stories over Billy Butler’s head at first for an error that permitted Cabrera to reach second base. A.J. Pierzynski put down a perfect sacrifice bunt before Dye drilled an RBI double to right-center.

Dye’s two-run homer in the first inning Tuesday started the White Sox toward a 9-0 victory.

Hochevar retired Jim Thome but walked Paul Konerko before yielding an RBI single to Ken Griffey.

The Royals put runners at second and third with two outs in the second inning and with one out in the third inning — and got nothing. Buehrle pitched out of the latter jam by striking out David DeJesus (swinging) and José Guillen (looking).

That pretty much summed up the attack.

Hochevar retired 10 in a row after Griffey’s single before Juan Uribe opened the fifth with a single. Chris Getz’s hit-and-run single moved Uribe to third. Hochevar limited the damage to one run — Uribe scored on Pierzynski’s one-out grounder to short.

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