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White Sox get a Royality check in three-game sweep

Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski tries regroup after his costly throwing error eighth inning. | OrlWagner~AP

Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski tries to regroup after his costly throwing error in the eighth inning. | Orlin Wagner~AP

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The facts: 7:10, CSN, 670-AM, 97.5-FM.

The starters: Freddy Garcia (7-5, 4.68 ERA) vs. Gavin Floyd (9-9, 4.43).


Tuesday: 7:10 p.m., CSN, 670-AM, 97.5-FM. Ivan Nova (11-6, 4.76) vs. Francisco Liriano (4-10, 5.22).

Wednesday: 7:10 p.m., Ch. 26, ESPN2, 670-AM, 97.5-FM. Phil Hughes (12-10, 4.23) vs. Chris Sale (14-4, 2.72).

Updated: September 21, 2012 6:33AM

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — And with that unexpected sweep by the Kansas City Royals, Robin Ventura is facing perhaps his biggest test as a rookie manager.

Swept for only the second time this season, Ventura’s White Sox hobbled home still clinging to first place by 1½ games in the American League Central but wavering with the New York Yankees coming to town.

The 5-2 loss Sunday was about as ugly as the 9-4 defeat Saturday in which the Sox made four errors. The Sox had three hits, all singles, and after catching a break on a three-base error by first baseman Eric Hosmer that tied the score in the eighth, the bullpen gave it right back in the bottom of the inning.

Two walks by Jesse Crain, one by Donnie Veal and a throwing error by catcher A.J. Pierzynski past first baseman Paul Konerko lowlighted the eighth.

“Absolutely disappointed,’’ Pierzynski said. “It’s frustrating. It’s brutal. We have to play better than that, myself included. Just a bad weekend.”

After winning three of four in Toronto, the Sox’ record on the road trip goes in the books as 3-4. Losing was one thing, but playing bad baseball didn’t sit well with Ventura.

“You just want them to play better; you expect them to play better,’’ he said. “When they don’t, you realize that does happen some days, but on the whole, they need to start playing better. They know that, too.’’

What really made this one sting was tying it on a gift, then handing it back.

“When you catch a break there and tie it up, you think that’s a game you’re going to win on a gift like that,’’ Konerko said. “It’s over, and we have to be right back out there against the Yankees, so we can’t think about this one or this weekend too much or it will get worse.’’

Jeremy Guthrie, extending his scoreless-innings streak to 22, had a no-hitter broken up by Konerko’s infield single to deep shortstop in the seventh inning.

After Guthrie gave up singles to Dayan Viciedo and Ray Olmedo with two outs in the eighth, lefty reliever Tim Collins got Dewayne Wise to hit one at Hosmer, but his one-hopper went under Hosmer’s glove and into the right-field corner, scoring both runners for the tie.

Royals catcher Salvador Perez, who one-hopped a two-run double over third base off Jose Quintana to break a scoreless tie in the sixth, drove in the first run of the eighth against Crain (2-2).

The bullpen took its lumps for the second straight day after going through a good stretch.

“It’s been a tough month,’’ Crain said. “Every game is a tie game, one run. Unfortunately, once in a while, they’re going to go the other way.’’

Ventura, who has guided the Sox with a quiet calm and day-to-day focus, fielded a team with one bench player Sunday because of injuries to Kevin Youkilis and Alejandro De Aza. A big deal was made of Ventura’s lack of experience when he was hired, and that could become a talking point if the Sox don’t get back on track soon.

“The non-experience thing was blown way out of proportion,’’ third-base coach Joe McEwing said. “Here’s a guy who played 16 years in the big leagues. He’s been through every situation. He’s been an Olympian, he was 0-for-41, an All-Star, Gold Glove and at the tail end of his career a bench guy. He knows what each individual is going through in this clubhouse every single day.’’

More heads were hanging than usual after the game. This series took a bite out of the Sox’ collective hide.

“Three days of not playing very good,’’ Ventura said.

“You can’t sit here and worry about all of this. You just play. There’s still a lot of the season left, and if anybody pouts about this, you lose focus on who you’re supposed to be playing. You start focusing on tomorrow and playing better.’’

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