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Keller fans 9, but Royals fall late in Chicago

MLB.com @FlannyMLB

CHICAGO -- With each start, Royals rookie right-hander Brad Keller seems bring something new to the table.

On Thursday afternoon, Keller dominated the White Sox for 6 1/3 innings and finished with a career-high nine strikeouts. Kansas City's bullpen surrendered a 3-2 lead, giving up four in the eighth inning, and Chicago prevailed, 6-4, at Guaranteed Rate Field.

View Full Game Coverage

CHICAGO -- With each start, Royals rookie right-hander Brad Keller seems bring something new to the table.

On Thursday afternoon, Keller dominated the White Sox for 6 1/3 innings and finished with a career-high nine strikeouts. Kansas City's bullpen surrendered a 3-2 lead, giving up four in the eighth inning, and Chicago prevailed, 6-4, at Guaranteed Rate Field.

View Full Game Coverage

Keller gave up five hits and three walks, allowing two earned runs.

"He threw the ball extremely well," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "I thought he did a phenomenal job to keep us in the game."

Video: KC@CWS: Yost discusses their loss to the White Sox

Keller's four-seamer touched 95 mph. He also used an effective two-seam fastball in holding Chicago to one run through six innings. But Keller seemed to lose his feel in the seventh, walking two before Yost brought in reliever Tim Hill.

"I definitely felt back to where I was [earlier in the season], down in the zone, pounding the zone," Keller said. "I felt like the sinker was one of my better pitches today. Got a lot of swings and misses on it. Lot of movement."

Keller got a boost from recently acquired center fielder Brett Phillips, who made two dazzling plays. First, he threw out Leury Garcia trying to tag and score from third on a laser throw measured at 100.1 mph, per Statcast™, after grabbing a fly ball off the bat of Tim Anderson.

"That was a rocket," Keller said. "I was standing right there and thought, '[The runner] is hosed.'"

Video: KC@CWS: Phillips' 100.1-mph throw and diving grab

Added Yost, "[Phillips] showed off his tremendous arm in center. It was really interesting, because I saw the play and thought, 'Give this a shot. I want to see.' He played it perfectly. I really like what I see in that kid. He knows what he's doing out there."

One inning later, Phillips made a headlong dive and catch while charging on a liner from Yolmer Sanchez. Statcast™ judged that a four-star catch with a 47 percent catch probability.

Whit Merrifield gave Kansas City a 3-2 lead with a three-run pinch-hit home run in the eighth inning, the Royals' first pinch-hit home run since Aug. 18, 2014 (when Erik Kratz did it).

Video: KC@CWS: Merrifield belts a 3-run HR in the 8th

But Jason Adam gave up a game-tying home run to Jose Abreu in the eighth. Daniel Palka then hit a three-run home run off Jason Hammel later in the inning.

SOUND SMART
Kansas City shortstop Adalberto Mondesi was flying on his bunt single in the eighth, recording the eighth-fastest home-to-first time in the Majors this year at 31.0 feet per second sprint speed. He now owns the Royals' five fastest home-to-first speeds in Statcast™ history.

Video: KC@CWS: Mondesi lays down a bunt, sprints for single

UP NEXT
Right-hander Heath Fillmyer (0-1, 3.29 ERA) takes the mound for the Royals as they open a three-game set in Minnesota on Friday at 7:10 p.m. CT to conclude a three-city road trip. Right-hander Jake Odorizzi (4-7, 4.58 ERA) will pitch for the Twins. Fillmyer gave up five hits and three runs over five innings Saturday at Yankee Stadium.

Jeffrey Flanagan has covered the Royals since 1991, and for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter @FlannyMLB.

Kansas City Royals, Brad Keller, Whit Merrifield, Brett Phillips