CHICAGO (AP) — Salvador Perez and Whit Merrifield hit solo home runs, Daniel Lynch took a shutout into the sixth inning in his return from the injured list and the Kansas City Royals edged the Chicago White Sox 2-1 on Monday night for their second straight win.
Perez launched a monster blast for the second straight game and his third homer in four contests after missing 31 games with a left thumb injury and surgery. The seven-time All Star catcher has eight RBIs in the span.
“This guy just continues to amaze us,” Royals manager Mike Matheny said. “Any injury, especially one that causes a surgery, usually it’s not just the strength, it’s the timing. That’s probably the most amazing thing after he’s able to take off five weeks.
“For him to jump right in … just not many people do that.”
Merrifield’s drive into the left-field bullpen off Michael Kopech (4-7) in the sixth might have been his last with Kansas City. A two-time All Star in seven seasons with the Royals, the second baseman has been the subject of trade rumors heading into Tuesday’s deadline.
It didn’t distract Merrifield on Monday.
“Once the game starts, the game and what happens off the field are two separate parts of my life,” Merrifield said. “I feel like I do a pretty good job of disconnecting.”
Tim Anderson and Andrew Vaughn each had two hits off Lynch, but the White Sox slipped back to .500 (51-51). Pinch-hitter Gavin Sheets drove in a run with sac fly in the seventh.
Chicago, 23-29 at home, failed in a bid to win three consecutive games at Guaranteed Rate Field for the first time this season.
Lynch (4-7) allowed six hits, struck out seven and walked none in 5 1/3 innings as he returned from a rehab assignment at Triple-A Omaha and started in place of Brad Keller. The 6-foot-6 left-hander went on the injured list on July 18 with a blister on his pitching hand, the second time in a month the injury sidelined him.
“It’s been a while since I’ve been able to go out and just have a normal game,” Lynch said. “So it was just a lot of fun to be back out there with these guys and get to throw to Salvy (Perez.)”
Scott Barlow got the last six outs for his 17th save in 20 chances. He worked around a single in each of the last two innings.
Kopech allowed two runs and six hits in seven innings. He struck out three and walked one while throwing a career-high 100 pitches.
“He gets us into the seventh inning,” Chicago manager Tony La Russa said. “He did his part. The ball was coming out his hand good.
“The problem was we just got shut down. We didn’t create enough opportunities.”
The White Sox had 10 hits, but nine were singles and Royals pitchers issued only one walk.
Perez’s 14th homer, off Kopech’s 2-1 slider in the fourth, was measured at 452 feet and put Kansas City ahead 1-0. The blast sailed over the multi-tiered center-field batter’s eye and bounced high off the concourse pavement in front of the scoreboard.
“That had to be more than that, c’mon,” joked Perez about the distance of his drive, the 23rd of his career against the White Sox.
“No 450, that’s a glitch,” Merrifield said. “That’s as close to 500 as you’re gonna’ see. That was crazy. He’s strong.”
It came a day after Perez launched a three-run, 441-foot shot off Yankees All-Star closer Clay Holmes in the ninth inning in New York to lift the Royals to an 8-6 win. It was the first home run allowed this year by Holmes
Merrifield went deep in the sixth to make it 2-0.
After Leury Garcia and Seby Zavala greeted reliever Wyatt Mills with singles in the seventh, Sheets’ deep fly scored Garcia to cut it to 2-1.
ALL OR NOTHING
Perez has just three hits since coming back, but all have been homers.
WHITE SOX ADD LEFTY
The White Sox filled a gap in their bullpen by acquiring LHP Jake Diekman from Boston for catcher Reese McGuire and a player to be named or cash.
Diekman is 5-1 with a 4.23 ERA in 44 appearances this season. The 6-foot-4, 35-year-old is particularly tough on left-handed batters, holding them to a .188 batting average this year.
The Royals, who could be prominent sellers ahead of Tuesday’s deadline, made two minor deals to add organizational pitching depth.
Kansas City swapped 3B Emmanuel Rivera to the Arizona for RHP Luke Weaver, who was 1-1 with a 7.71 ERA for the Diamondbacks. The Royals sent cash to the Seattle Mariners for LHP Anthony Misiewicz, who was assigned to Triple-A Omaha
White Sox: CF Luis Robert was in the team’s clubhouse after a rehab stint at Triple-A Charlotte, but not reactivated from the IL. Manager Tony La Russa said it was unlikely the speedy outfielder would play in the three-game series against Kansas City. Robert exited a game at Minnesota on July 15 with blurred vision and lightheadedness and was placed on the retroactive to July 19. Last weekend, the White Sox said the 2020 Gold Glove winner was suffering from cold symptoms.
Royals: RHP Carlos Hernandez was optioned to Triple-A Omaha to make room for Lynch on the roster.
Kansas City RHP Brad Keller (5-11, 4.18) will start on Tuesday and face struggling Chicago RHP Lucas Giolito (6-6, 5.14). Giolito was 4-2 with a 3.54 ERA in his first nine starts this season, but is 2-4 with a 6.75 ERA in his last nine outings.