CHICAGO -- Dylan Covey was better than he has been during a 3-1 White Sox loss to the Royals Saturday night at Guaranteed Rate Field.
Make that much better than he has been.
The White Sox right-hander entered the contest with a 1-8 record and a 8.94 ERA over his last 10 starts, covering 46 1/3 innings. He also had given up nine home runs, walked 25 and allowed an opponents' average of .308 during that very rough stretch.
But against the Royals, Covey yielded four hits and two runs over 5 2/3 innings to go with six strikeouts and three walks. He had one focus coming into this start -- working down in the zone and letting his sinker go to work, which Covey felt was accomplished.
"That was the main focus," Covey said. "Little bit of a mechanical adjustment to make it a little easier for me but that was the main focus all week. I saw the results of that today."
"He chalked up a few more strikeouts. He gave us a chance," said White Sox manager Rick Renteria of Covey. "Honestly, two runs through 5 2/3 I think it was, we were hoping to get him through the sixth with a quality start. It was a nice outing from him to come back from what's actually been occurring over the past few outings. It's a good sign."
Whit Merrifield opened the game with a single to left -- and was picked off at first -- but Covey didn't allow another hit until the Royals scored two in the sixth and knocked Covey from the game. Alex Gordon, who reached base three times, tied the game with his eighth home run. Jorge Bonifacio singled home Lucas Duda with the go-ahead run.
Nicky Delmonico accounted for the lone White Sox run off of Royals starter Brad Keller as he homered for a second straight game. The White Sox had runners on first and third to start the fourth but could not score when Avisail Garcia and Delmonico struck out and Tim Anderson flied out. Jose Abreu opened the eighth with a double off of Brandon Maurer, but he struck out Daniel Palka, Garcia and Delmonico to end the threat.
On the night, the White Sox finished 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position and stranded eight.
"We had some scoring opportunities. We left quite a few guys on base," Renteria said. "We weren't able to convert, but in general, I thought Covey's outing was fine, the relief was fine. They kept us in the ballgame. We had opportunities and just fell short."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
The little things:Kevan Smith opened the seventh with a single off of Kevin McCarthy, making him the tying run with Adam Engel at the plate. Engel tried to get three bunts down, including one with two strikes, but failed all three times. Yoan Moncada and Yolmer Sanchez both struck out as well against Tim Hill to end the inning without bringing across a run. Renteria said having Engel bunt with two strikes was not really about trust, but about doing his job.
• Moncada staying positive despite struggles
"It's got to get done," Renteria said. "[Engel] had two pitches previous to that to get it done. At the Major League level, these guys are expected to get it done. This is truly a part of his game. He came up, developed and has always been an excellent bunter.
"Every single Major League hitter should know how to bunt, and I make no bones about that. That ball's got to get down. It didn't work out. He didn't get it down. He was frustrated about it. It's not that he didn't want to get it done, he just didn't get it done."
HE SAID IT
"I think she said, 'I played center and short.' I said, 'Can you play for us?' She said, 'Sure.' Seems to be a really nice lady. I guess she grew up a Minnesota … but she wants to be a part of falling in love with the Sox. I said, 'Well, we're going to be all right. We're coming.'" -- Renteria, on Sister Mary Jo Sobieck and her entertaining first pitch
Right-hander Reynaldo Lopez is scheduled to make his 25th start of the season, 12th at home and seventh career against Kansas City in Sunday's series finale with a 1:10 p.m. CT first pitch at Guaranteed Rate Field. Heath Fillmyer gets the start for Kansas City. Lopez is 2-1 with a 3.66 ERA and a .278 opponents' average against the Royals lifetime.