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White Sox fall to Royals, but Adam Dunn still thrilled to be in first

Pitcher Jake Peavy catcher Tyler Flowers search for solutiseventh inning Saturday.  |  OrlWagner~AP

Pitcher Jake Peavy and catcher Tyler Flowers search for a solution in the seventh inning Saturday. | Orlin Wagner~AP

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Updated: August 17, 2012 6:56AM

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The White Sox’ 6-3 loss Saturday to the Kansas City Royals notwithstanding, Sunday will be the Sox’ 49th day in first place this season. For Adam Dunn, it’s a splendid — and very strange — feeling.

For most of his career, Dunn has been a fifth-place kind of guy, which is why the South Side looked so inviting when he was a free agent two offseasons ago. Dunn’s teams finished fifth in seven of his first 11 seasons. His only second-place finish came on an 82-80 Arizona Diamondbacks team for which he played 44 games in 2008.

He never has played on a winner, and this team is easily his best.

‘‘By far,’’ said Dunn, who hit a 451-foot home run to center field in the sixth inning of the Sox’ loss. ‘‘Teamwise, on-the-field stuff, but off the field, too. [On Friday] night, everybody was in the dugout in the 14th inning. Everybody. Most people come out of the game and come up here [in the clubhouse] and hang out, but we had 25 guys on the [handshake] line after we won. It’s awesome.’’

There was no high-five line Saturday after Alcides Escobar doubled his home-run output for the season in four at-bats against All-Star Jake Peavy (7-6). Escobar hit a two-run shot to left field in the third inning to break a 1-1 tie and added a solo shot to left in the
seventh to snap a 3-3 tie. Dunn hit his 27th homer against Royals right-hander Luke Hochevar, but he was unhappy after the game because he struck out with two runners on and one out in the seventh against lefty Jose Mijares. The score was tied at the time.

‘‘I can’t get the big hit when we need it,’’ Dunn said. ‘‘You can hit all the solo homers you want; they don’t count for nothing. When you have a chance to open up a big
inning, you’ve got to start getting those hits.’’

Trailing 4-3 and having thrown 111 pitches through seven innings, Peavy started the eighth and gave up consecutive singles to Billy Butler, Mike Moustakas and Jeff Francoeur without getting an out. Hector Santiago finished the inning, but not before Peavy was charged with two more runs.

‘‘Escobar got him a couple of times,’’ manager Robin Ventura said. ‘‘Those are the ones that got him. Other than that, he was in it.’’

Peavy was charged with six runs and a season-high 12 hits. He struck out five and walked one.

‘‘I just wasn’t good enough,’’ Peavy said. ‘‘The pitch in the third to Escobar wasn’t a bad pitch. The pitch to him later in the game, there’s no excuse for that.’’

The Sox (48-39) didn’t lose ground in the American League Central because the Cleveland
Indians and Detroit Tigers lost. The Indians trail the first-place Sox by three games; the Tigers are 31/2 out.

When Dunn signed a four-year, $56 million deal before last season to be the Sox’ designated hitter, he came for the money and to log some time in first place.

‘‘I wanted the best opportunity to go somewhere to not just make the playoffs but to win a ring,’’ he said. ‘‘I knew with [general manager Ken Williams’] reputation, he’s going to do whatever he has to do to win. This, by far, was the place I wanted to go.

‘‘I’ve been on teams that are 25 games out. You’ve got people at the All-Star break getting their plane tickets to go home at the end of the season. It’s what we do, but it’s hard to go out there and get your butt kicked. It’s no fun. If you win and have fun, you’re having a great time.’’

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