KANSAS CITY -- Jeff Samardzija has had a rough August.
The White Sox haven’t been any better.
Fantastic in July, Samardzija has allowed 16 earned runs in his past two starts, including seven Saturday as the White Sox fell to the Kansas City Royals 7-6 in front of 39,302 at Kauffman Stadium. Jose Abreu hit two solo home runs and Adam Eaton singled in two more, but it wasn’t enough to prevent the White Sox from their seventh loss in nine tries. Once 2 1/2 games out in the wild-card race, the White Sox are now seven back.
“When we get six runs, we should win those games,” Samardzija said. “Our offense has been doing great. We’re playing great defense. I’ll speak for myself -- you have to go out and be a little better than the last couple of times, and we will for sure.”
White Sox starting pitchers have a 9.60 ERA in the team’s past nine games.
Samardzija -- who was 3-1 with a 2.27 ERA in five starts last month -- appeared to be on track to do something about that figure, as he was perfect through three innings.
But right after his team gifted him a two-run lead, Samardzija gave it back.
And while there were a few dinks and dunks in the bunch, Samardzija had no leeway after he issue a pair of walks. Alcides Escobar led off the fourth inning with a single and Samardzija quickly loaded the bases with walks of Mike Moustakas and Lorenzo Cain.
From there the bottom dropped out.
In between the fourth and fifth, Samardzija walked the two, hit another and allowed six hits, including three with two outs as he fell behind 7-2. Kendrys Morales’ RBI double on a 1-2 pitch with two outs in the fifth ended Samardzija’s night. Over his past two starts, Samardzija has allowed 16 earned runs and 14 hits in 9 2/3 innings. His earned-run average has skyrocketed from 3.94 to 4.62.
“He was working from behind a lot … and he’s always better when he’s jumping ahead and getting guys chasing or locating the fastball if they’re sitting on that,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “Those two innings especially he kind of put himself in trouble.
“You know guys are going to have a bump here or there.
“It’s our job to try and stop them and right now it’s not happening.”
[NBC SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans]
The middle innings wiped out a strong effort by White Sox hitters. After they stranded a man on third in the third inning, Abreu got the White Sox going with a solo homer to left off Jeremy Guthrie (six earned runs, 10 hits allowed). Melky Cabrera, who doubled, scored on an Adam LaRoche double play to give the White Sox a 2-0 lead in the fourth.
Even after they fell behind 7-2, the White Sox continued to battle, though a base running mistake by Geovany Soto ended a possible rally in the fifth when he was picked off with Abreu up and two aboard.
“Especially with Josey at the plate you have to make sure that guy goes home,” Ventura said. “I’m sure he’s kicking himself.”
Abreu began the sixth inning with a solo homer to make it 7-3. Carlos Sanchez singled in a run with two outs and Eaton sliced the lead to a run with a two-run single off Luke Hochevar. But Ryan Madson, Kelvin Herrera and Greg Holland combined for three scoreless innings to hold off the White Sox.
“It has been tough for us to combine the defense with the pitching with the offense,” Abreu said through an interpreter. “It’s hard to get wins when you can’t combine that. But we have to try hard every day. This is a long season and if you want to win you have to be consistent in all areas.”