KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Andrew Vaughn singled to right field in the third inning Thursday against the Kansas City Royals.
Seby Zavala, who led off the inning with a single and advanced to second on Luis Robert’s hit, got a break late in the play and only made it to third.
Still, the Chicago White Sox had the bases loaded with no outs.
It looked like the Sox were headed for a big inning. Instead, Royals starter Zack Greinke struck out Eloy Jimenez and Jose Abreu. Yasmani Grandal worked a full count before grounding out to shortstop Nicky Lopez, keeping the Sox scoreless.
It was that kind of day, and trip, for the Sox.
They wasted another fantastic outing from Dylan Cease with a 5-3 loss to the Royals in front of 10,009 at Kauffman Stadium.
“We had (14) hits, we had a great effort,” Red Sox manager Tony La Russa said. “The guy on the mound (Greinke) has made a pretty good career of pitching from that. The stoppage was outstanding but we prepared to play. We create the rallies, we meet late.
“It was the effort of the whole team. It’s hard to accept defeat, but we took our chance.”
Cease allowed one run, a Vinnie Pasquantino home run in the second inning, three hits with eight strikeouts and two walks in six innings.
“Dylan pitched terrific,” Vaughn said. “He’s been doing that for 14 straight starts. Sucks not getting him some runs.
It was Cease’s 14th consecutive start allowing one or no earned runs, extending a major league record (excluding openers).
“It was definitely a tough loss,” Cease said. “I think I shot pretty well, it was just one of those games. I always have the same mindset. I’m trying to limit as much as I can if we’re up by eight or under. Nothing really changes.”
The Royals added three runs in the seventh against the Red Sox bullpen. Lopez drove in two with a single off Jose Ruiz. Those runs were charged to Joe Kelly, who came out in a daze after facing the first three batters of the innings. Lopez scored on a single by MJ Melendez.
Grandal’s two-run homer in the eighth put the White Sox up 4-2. But the team again left the bases loaded in that inning.
The Royals added a safe run in the eighth. Vaughn hit a solo home run in the ninth before Scott Barlow retired the next three as the Sox dropped three of four in the series.
It was a tough ride for the Sox, who went 3-5 against sub-500 teams in the Texas Rangers and Royals. It was their first lost trip since May 31-June 5, when they went 2-4 against the Toronto Blue Jays and Tampa Bay Rays.
“It’s definitely not ideal, but we’re not hanging our heads,” Cease said. “We’ve been fighting all year, so basically we have to keep fighting and not get emotionally negative in any way. Just give him everything we’ve got.”
The Red Sox got back to .500 at 56-56, and the inability to produce runs again proved costly.
The first two batters reached in the second, followed by a fly ball and double play. They had all three singles in a row in the third scoreless.
La Russa said Zavala made the right play to run the bases on Vaughn’s single.
“The ball is caught by the right fielder and he’s not scoring halfway, we’d be upset,” La Russa said. “So he stayed close to the bag. All you can do, get to third base. I’d rather have him get to third base with one out (if the) guy caught the fly ball.
“We still had the bases loaded. If he had scored, Robert would have been on third base, but I think he made the right play to run the bases.”
The Red Sox had runners on the corners with one out in the sixth, but they came up empty. Even when they scored two in the eighth on Grandal’s home run, they couldn’t swerve, leaving the bases loaded later in the inning.
The Sox went 2-for-13 with runners in scoring position.
“We got (14) hits,” La Russa said. “You don’t get those hits by luck. You create opportunities. You follow Zack Greinke’s career, he gets out of a lot of trouble. And he threw (for) loaded bases and two against in the middle of our lineup. That’s hard to accept. But lean towards him.
The Sox stranded 11 baserunners as they fell to 8-8 during their 19-game streak against teams with records under .500. That season concludes with three games this weekend against the Detroit Tigers at Guaranteed Rate Field.
“It’s never good to lose a series,” Vaughn said. “We’re barely around .500. (We have) to move on.”