KANSAS CITY -- Whit Merrifield hit a walk-off sacrifice fly in the 10th inning to give the Royals a 7-6 win over the White Sox on Friday night at Kauffman Stadium. The walk-off was the second of Merrifield's career.
With the win, the Royals moved into a second-place tie with the Twins in the American League Central -- both clubs sitting 1 1/2 games behind the first-place Indians. The White Sox, after blowing a 5-1 lead early on against the Royals, lost their seventh straight.
Facing Tyler Clippard, who took the loss in his White Sox debut, Alcides Escobar and Alex Gordon singled to start the 10th. They moved up on a wild pitch, then pinch-hitter Jorge Bonifacio walked to load the bases. The White Sox pulled center fielder Adam Engel for infielder Alen Hanson and played Merrifield's at-bat with five infielders. But Merrifield, who didn't change his approach with the defensive change, lifted a fly ball on a 1-2 pitch to center and Escobar was able to tag and score.
"I had a feeling it was going to be deep enough," Merrifield said.
White Sox second baseman Yoan Moncada, ranked as the No. 1 prospect in baseball by MLBPipeline.com, drove in four runs in a loss. Three came on a bases-clearing triple in the third inning, his first hit since being called up on Wednesday.
The White Sox took a four-run lead on Moncada's triple, but six Royals pitchers combined for six scoreless innings in relief of Ian Kennedy, who gave up six runs -- five earned -- in four innings. It was the Royals' 28th comeback win, which leads the AL.
"That's what good teams have to do to be successful and make it to the playoffs," Merrifield said. "That's what needs to happen in order to win games like this."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Double trouble: Gordon tied it at 6 in the fifth inning with a two-run double. With one out and the bases loaded, Gordon hit an 87-mph cutter from James Shields down the line in left. Brandon Moss and Salvador Perez scored, and Shields, who gave up six earned runs, was pulled following the hit. Right-hander Gregory Infante retired Andrew Butera and Merrifield to end the inning.
"It was fun coming back," said Shields, who was with the Royals in 2013-14. "I wish the results were a little better. But it's always good coming back, seeing fans. But again, I didn't do my job tonight."
Running free: An error by Royals center fielder Lorenzo Cain led directly to the White Sox's sixth run. Leading off the fifth inning, designated hitter Yolmer Sanchez hit a routine line drive to Cain in center. Cain missed the catch, and the ball rolled to the wall. Sanchez sprinted to third on the error. He then scored on a passed ball during the next at-bat to give the White Sox a 6-4 lead.
"We don't want to lose. Nobody wants to lose in this clubhouse, no matter what. Doesn't matter. We're still fighting. We're playing the game as hard as we can right now and things aren't going our way. So we're grinding it out." -- Shields
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas' solo home run in the fourth inning broke a string of 38 plate appearances without one, which was tied for his longest stretch without a home run this season. He now has 26 home runs.
AFTER FURTHER REVIEW
Eric Hosmer stole second on a 2-2 pitch with two out in the ninth inning and was ruled safe. The White Sox challenged the play, but the call was ruled as stands. Hosmer (family matter) and Bonifacio (sore foot) weren't in the starting lineup. Hosmer, who was out of town, made it to the ballpark in time and entered as a pinch-hitter for Ramon Torres in the fourth inning. Hosmer remained in the game at first base.
White Sox: Right-hander Mike Pelfrey will make his 18th appearance and 16th start this season when he faces the Royals at 6:15 p.m. CT on Saturday at Kauffman Stadium. Pelfrey is 0-2 with a 6.62 ERA, and a .300 average against, over his last four outings with zero quality starts.
Royals: Left-hander Jason Vargas will start the middle game against the White Sox on Saturday at 6:15 p.m. CT. Over Vargas' last two starts, he has given up 12 runs in 7 2/3 innings. He is coming off a 2 2/3 innings outing -- his shortest of the season.
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