CHICAGO — There was a lot more Tuesday to the Royals' 16-hit attack than just Mike Aviles, but this say this much: This was one was fine audition for more playing time.
Aviles had a homer and two singles in his first start of the season — his first start since undergoing major elbow surgery roughly 10 months ago — as the Royals battered the Chicago White Sox 7-2 at U.S. Cellular Field.
Jose Guillen also homered — a two-run drive that capped a four-run seventh and turned a one-run lead into a 6-1 cushion. David DeJesus, Scott Podsednik, Billy Butler, Guillen and Chris Getz each contributed two hits to a balanced attack.
It was a welcome change for an attack that generated nine runs over the five previous games.
Aviles rejoined the club Monday from Triple-A Omaha as a replacement for demoted Alex Gordon. On Tuesday, Aviles started at shortstop, his old position, over slumping Yuniesky Betancourt.
The result was single in the first, a disappointing double-play grounder in the third, a line out to third in the sixth, a single in the decisive seventh and a homer in the ninth inning.
Royals starter Luke Hochevar (3-1) bounced back from a nightmarish start last Thursday at Tampa Bay by limiting the White Sox to one unearned run and three hits in six innings. It didn't start well; he walked the first two hitters in the first.
But Hochevar induced key double-play grounders in the first and sixth that enabled him to hand a 6-1 lead to lefty Dusty Hughes at the start of the Chicago seventh.
Hughes immediately gave up a homer to A.J. Pierzynski and later surrendered singles to Mark Teahen and Juan Pierre — all left-handed hitters — before Josh Rupe entered with two on and two out.
Rupe stranded both runners by retiring Gordon Beckham on a fielder's-choice grounder. Rupe then pitched around Alex Rios' two-out double in a scoreless eighth. Brad Thompson closed out the victory with a one-two-three ninth.
Chicago starter Gavin Floyd, 1-3, gave up six runs and 13 hits in 6 1/3 innings _ and it could have been a lot worse. The Royals stranded six runners in the first three innings.
The victory lifted the Royals (11-16) out of last place in the American League Central Division. They are tied with the White Sox for third place, one-half game ahead of Cleveland, 10-16.
The Royals had a chance to deliver an early knockout to Floyd but settled for single runs in the first two innings.
DeJesus opened the game with a double and went to third on Podsednik's bunt single. Butler grounded into a double play that scored the run.
The Royals loaded the bases with no outs in the second inning after Jason Kendall walked and went to second on Aviles' single. Mitch Maier's attempt at a sacrifice bunt resulted in a bunt single.
Getz flicked an RBI single into right that made it 2-0, but DeJesus popped out, Podsednik struck out and Butler grounded out.
It was even worse in the third when, again, the Royals loaded the bases with no outs. Singles by Guillen and Callaspo preceded a walk to Kendall. But Aviles, in his worst at-bat of the night, grounded into a first-to-home double play. Maier flied out.
So it was still just 2-0 instead of 5-0 or 6-0.
The White Sox cut the lead in half after Pierre reached on a one-out bunt single in the third. He stole second and, after Beckham walked, the two executed a double steal. Pierre scored when Kendall's errant throw went into left field.
Hochevar worked himself into more trouble after Beckham's leadoff single in the sixth. A one-out wild pitch moved Beckham to second before Paul Konerko reached on a four-pitch walk.
But Hoch got what he needed when Alex Rios grounded into a double play.
The Royals broke the game open, finally, with a four-run seventh that, finally, chased Floyd. Getz led off with a single, stole second and moved to third on DeJesus' grounder to the right side.
Podsednik ripped a triple past first base for a 3-1 lead. The White Sox kept the infield in, and Butler grounded an RBI single up the middle. The infield retreated, which didn't matter when Guillen pumped a two-run homer over the left-field wall.
Guillen's homer boosted his club-leading total to eight and extended the lead to 6-1.
Ka'aihue recalled — The Royals put outfielder Rick Ankiel on the disabled list and recalled first baseman Kila Ka'aihue.
Ankiel has been slow to recover from a strained right quadriceps suffered April 24.
Ka'aihue, a former Wichita Wrangler, was batting .304 with seven homers and a .466 on-base percentage in 23 games with Omaha.