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KC's bullpen labors after Kennedy's fine start

Maurer tagged for 3 runs in pivotal 8th against White Sox
MLB.com @FlannyMLB

KANSAS CITY -- Royals manager Ned Yost cautioned that it might take all of April to determine his bullpen roles.

In the meantime, there may be some hard times, such as Saturday when right-hander Brandon Maurer coughed up a two-run lead in the eighth inning in a 4-3 loss to the White Sox at Kauffman Stadium.

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KANSAS CITY -- Royals manager Ned Yost cautioned that it might take all of April to determine his bullpen roles.

In the meantime, there may be some hard times, such as Saturday when right-hander Brandon Maurer coughed up a two-run lead in the eighth inning in a 4-3 loss to the White Sox at Kauffman Stadium.

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The rally started with a home run by Yoan Moncada off a changeup from Maurer.

"It was just up," Maurer said. "I think I was just out there overthrowing today, so that never really works, just kind of yanking heaters and falling behind."

With runners on second and third and two out, Maurer again fell behind, this time, 3-0, to Welington Castillo, who slammed a two-run double over the head of right fielder Jon Jay.

Video: CWS@KC: Castillo hits go-ahead two-run double in 8th

Yost said he will continue to experiment with his setup men, but he likely will start out with right-hander Justin Grimm and Maurer.

"I think you go with your veteran guys a little bit and just see who takes advantage of it and who doesn't and just keep adjusting," Yost said. "It's not a one- or two-day audition."

Royals starter Ian Kennedy worked six strong innings, giving up four hits and one run while striking out five.

Royals first baseman Lucas Duda drew a bases loaded walk in the first off White Sox starter Lucas Giolito, and he also had an RBI single in the third inning. Duda, a free-agent signing during Spring Training, now has five RBIs in two games for his new team.

Video: CWS@KC: Duda plates Moustakas with bloop single

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Kennedy's escape act: Kennedy's most impressive mound effort came in the fifth after Yolmer Sanchez singled and Adam Engel reached on a perfectly executed bunt and run. Moncada could not execute a bunt on the first pitch, eventually being called out on strikes. Kennedy then induced an inning-ending around-the-horn double play, pointing to catcher Drew Butera with approval upon escaping unscathed.

"Being 100 percent healthy, I'm able to drive with my backside so much better," Kennedy said. "I can finish my pitches. I thought I was spinning it pretty good."

Video: CWS@KC: Moustakas hustles around bases for triple

Rare triple: The Royals took a 3-1 lead in the third inning when Mike Moustakas rifled a liner into the right-field corner and legged out a triple -- his first since May 15, 2015. Moustakas scored on Duda's bloop single to center.

QUOTABLE
"You know [Ryan Goins] is a kid who put the ball in play all spring. Gave us a chance to hopefully keep the line moving." -- Yost, on using left-handed hitting Goins to pinch-hit in the ninth over right-handed power hitter Jorge Soler against right-hander Joakim Soria with the potential winning run at the plate

Video: CWS@KC: Yost on Kennedy's performance, 4-3 loss

WHAT'S NEXT
White Sox: Right-hander Reynaldo Lopez gets the call in the series finale at 1:15 p.m. CT on Sunday at Kauffman Stadium. Lopez was 1-2 with a 3.86 ERA over five Cactus League starts and is 2-0 with a 3.44 ERA over three career starts against the Royals.

Royals: Right-hander Jason Hammel takes the mound in the series finale. Hammel was 2-0 with a 9.75 ERA in Cactus League play, while he had a 16.20 ERA against the White Sox in two starts in 2017.

Watch every out-of-market regular-season game live on MLB.TV.

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

Kansas City Royals, Lucas Duda, Ian Kennedy, Brandon Maurer, Mike Moustakas