Royals’ Lorenzo Cain rains on White Sox’ parade
BY TONI GINNETTI firstname.lastname@example.org September 7, 2012 11:28PM
Chicago White Sox catcher Tyler Flowers, left, watches Kansas City Royals' Lorenzo Cain cross home plate after hitting a two-run home during the ninth inning of a baseball game, Friday, Sept. 7, 2012, in Chicago. (AP Photo/John Smierciak)
Updated: October 9, 2012 3:07PM
September is the heat of the playoff race for contending teams — but it is “October’’ for the also-rans.
And the Kansas City Royals continue to play like an “October’’ team.
The White Sox again had their hands full Friday with the American League Central spoilers, who might yet decide if the division goes to the Sox or the Detroit Tigers.
This time, the first career multihomer game by Royals leadoff man and center fielder Lorenzo Cain was a poison pill leading to a 7-5 loss Friday night at U.S. Cellular Field before 26,660.
Cain’s two-run homer in the ninth off Addison Reed (3-2) broke a 5-5 tie and gave the Royals their sixth consecutive victory against the Sox and eighth in their last 11.
“A couple bad pitches, and they hit them,’’ said Reed, whose ERA in non-save situations climbed to 6.33 compared to 3.25 in save situations. “It doesn’t change things. Things just haven’t been going my way.
“But they’re a scrappy team. One through nine, they can hit. They give everyone trouble. The standings don’t show how good they are.’’
Cain’s first homer was a solo shot in the fifth off Sox starter Francisco Liriano.
Two time zones away, the pursuing Detroit Tigers dropped a 3-2 decision to the Los Angeles Angels, so the Sox’ one-game lead in the division held up for another night.
“People want to talk about Detroit [which arrives Monday for a four-game series], but we’re making sure our guys remain focused on the Royals because it’s a quick way to lose some games if you’re focused on other things,’’ manager Robin Ventura said.
But the Sox already knew the Royals are good.
“They’ve done everything when we’ve played them — they play good, sound baseball; they hit; they pitch well; they play good defense. They’re an all-around team. The start of the season didn’t start out that well for them, but lately they’ve been playing well.’’
The Sox turned to their weapon of choice — the home run — to rebound three times when the Royals took leads. A.J. Pierzynski (25th) led off the fourth with a solo drive, Dewayne Wise (seventh) hit one to lead off the fifth and Alexei Ramirez (ninth) hit a two-run homer in the sixth that tied the score at 5.
But the Sox stranded nine, including leaving the bases loaded in the eighth, when Ventura opted to stay with Jose Lopez against Kelvin Herrera (2-2) with two outs.
“He’d seen him before,’’ Ventura said. “Even with Gordon [Beckham, who struck out with men at second and third in the inning and one out], I figured those were pretty good chances.
“We could get men on, but we had problems getting them in. You get frustrated. This was one of those games where we had plenty of opportunities but we gave them opportunities.’’
Liriano lasted into the sixth, but he walked the first two in that inning. Both scored when Nate Jones gave up a double to Jeff Francoeur and a sacrifice fly to Eric Hosmer.
“I feel I’m not doing the job,’’ Liriano said. “I walked too many guys. I have to go deeper in games.’’