By Jeffrey Flanagan and Robert Falkoff
KANSAS CITY -- Brandon Moss blasted a grand slam in the first inning, and left-hander Scott Alexander escaped a major jam in the ninth as the Royals held on for a 4-3 win over the White Sox on Tuesday afternoon at Kauffman Stadium.
"We had our best guys up there to keep it going, and it just didn't work out," White Sox manager Rick Renteria said.
Alexander said he perhaps got even more focused once he got into the jam.
"Just trying to get outs any way I can," Alexander said. "That situation, everyone playing great, you don't want to be the one to blow it. Just keep that run from scoring, or at least not give up the lead."
Kansas City remained three games back of Minnesota for the second American League Wild Card spot after the Twins routed the Padres, 16-0, on Tuesday night.
Right-hander Sam Gaviglio made his second start for the Royals and provided five serviceable innings, giving up seven hits and two runs while walking none and striking out five.
Right-hander Dylan Covey started for the White Sox and battled command from the start, walking three batters before Moss' grand slam. Covey settled down and went 5 2/3 innings, giving up two hits and four runs.
"He started going after the hitters," Renteria said. "I think he was working on the fringes a little bit and didn't have his best command in that first inning."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Cashing in long AB: Moss, who has three home runs in three games, battled Covey for eight pitches. With a full count, Moss belted the ninth pitch, a waist-high two-seam fastball, and parked it in the right-center-field seats for his fourth career grand slam, giving the Royals an early 4-0 lead. Statcast™ estimated the home run traveled 430 feet with an exit velocity of 110 mph.
What was Moss looking for on the 3-2 pitch?
"Anything to hit a grand slam on," Moss said, smiling. "I don't think you can ever go up to the plate with the bases loaded and not get excited. The ultimate goal is a grand slam. You don't get a lot of chances with the bases loaded. The first thing you think as you walk to the plate is, 'Grand slam.'"
Escaping trouble: The White Sox began chipping away at the 4-0 deficit with a run in the third inning and another in the fourth on Tim Anderson's RBI single. Chicago had two runners on and one out when Gaviglio settled down and squelched the rally by striking out Rymer Liriano and getting Adam Engel to ground out to short.
"Really, just trying to execute pitches at that point," Gaviglio said. "[Salvador Perez] did a great job calling pitches there."
Said Renteria: "I think we could have gotten pitches a little more up in the zone. Those are things we talk about -- how they might adjust their approach a little more to give themselves a chance to create a productive out, or things of that nature."
AFTER FURTHER REVIEW
The Royals challenged a safe call at second base on an attempted steal by Liriano in the third inning. After review, the call stood.
WHAT'S NEXT White Sox: Right-hander Lucas Giolito (2-2, 2.84 ERA) will make his fifth start in the series finale against the Royals on Wednesday at 1:15 p.m. CT. Giolito took a loss in his last start against the Giants when he allowed five runs (three earned) before being ejected in the sixth inning for arguing balls and strikes.
Royals: Left-hander Eric Skoglund (1-2, 10.29 ERA) will start in the injured Ian Kennedy's place in the series finale against the White Sox on Wednesday at 1:15 p.m. CT. Skoglund is 1-1 with a 4.32 ERA in two career starts at Kauffman Stadium.