CHICAGO — Salvador Perez and Whit Merrifield hit solo homers, Daniel Lynch hit a sixth-inning shutout on his return from the injured list and the Kansas City Royals defeated 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 RBI on the span.
“This guy never ceases to amaze us,” said Royals manager Mike Matheny. “With any injury, especially one that causes surgery, it’s usually not just strength, it’s timing. That’s probably the most amazing thing after being able to have five weeks off.
“For him to jump right in … just not a lot of people do that.”
Merrifield’s drive into Michael Kopech’s (4-7) left field bullpen in the sixth was possibly his last with Kansas City. The second baseman, a two-time All Star in seven seasons with the Royals, has been the subject of trade rumors going 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’m chilling out pretty well.”
Tim Anderson and Andrew Vaughn each had two hits from Lynch, but the White Sox slipped back to .500 (51-51). Pinch-hitter Gavin Sheets rode a run with a sac fly in seventh place.
Chicago, 23-29 at home, fell short of winning three straight games in guaranteed rate field for the first time this season.
Lynch (4-7) allowed six hits, hit out seven and went zero in 5 1/3 innings when he returned from rehab at Triple-A Omaha and started in place of Brad Keller. The 6-foot-6 left-hander went injured on July 18 with a blister on his pitching hand, the second time in a month he was sidelined with the injury.
“It’s been a while since I could go out and just play a normal game,” Lynch said. “So it was just a lot of fun to be back out there with those guys throwing Salvy (Perez.)”
Scott Barlow made the last six outs for his 17th save from 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 hit three and walked one while throwing a career-high 100 pitches.
“He puts us in the seventh inning,” said Chicago coach Tony La Russa. “He did his part. The ball came out of his hand well.
“The problem was that we had just closed. We didn’t create enough opportunities for ourselves.”
The White Sox had 10 hits, but nine were singles and Royals pitchers only gave out one walk.
Perez’s 14th homer, off Kopech’s 2-1 shifter in the fourth, measured 452 feet and gave Kansas City a 1-0 lead. The blast sailed over the eye of the midfield multi-level batsman and ricocheted high off the hall’s pavement in front of the scoreboard.
“There had to be more, come on,” Perez joked about the distance of his drive, the 23rd of his career against the White Sox.
“No 450, that’s a mistake,” Merrifield said. “That’s as close to 500 as you’ll see. That was crazy. He is strong.”
It came a day after Perez launched a three-run shot from 441 feet in front of Yankees All-Star closer Clay Holmes in the ninth inning in New York to lead the Royals to an 8-6 victory. It was Holmes’ first allowed home run that year
Merrifield went deep into the sixth to make it 2-0.
After Leury Garcia and seventh-place Seby Zavala greeted successor Wyatt Mills with singles, Sheets’ deep fly Garcia scored to make it 2-1.
ALL OR NOTHING
Perez has only had three hits since his return, but all have been home runs.
WHITE SOX ADD LINKS
The White Sox filled a void in their bullpen by acquiring Boston’s LHP Jake Diekman for catcher Reese McGuire and one nominated player or cash.
Diekman is 5-1 with a 4.23 ERA in 44 appearances this season. The 35-year-old, 6-foot-4-year-old is particularly tough on lefties, keeping them at a .188 batting average this year.
OFFERS OF THE ROYALS
The royals, who could be prominent sellers before Tuesday’s deadline, have struck two smaller deals to add organizational pitching depth.
Kansas City traded 3B Emmanuel Rivera to 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 assigned to Triple-A Omaha
White Sox: CF Luis Robert was in the team’s clubhouse after a stint in rehab at Triple-A Charlotte but was not reactivated by the IL. Manager Tony La Russa said the speedy outfielder was unlikely to play against Kansas City in the three-game series. Robert walked out of a game in Minnesota on July 15 with blurred vision and grogginess and was moved backdated to July 19. Last weekend, the White Sox said the 2020 Gold Glove winner was suffering from cold symptoms.
Royals: RHP Carlos Hernandez was selected for Triple-A Omaha to make room for Lynch on the list.
Kansas City RHP Brad Keller (5-11, 4.18) will start Tuesday and meet 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 games.