CHICAGO — The Kansas City Royals were doing just fine without getting much from Alex Rios. They will gladly take any extra lift he can give their lineup.
Rios and Mike Moustakas homered, and the Royals beat the Chicago White Sox 4-2 Friday in Game 1 of a day-night doubleheader.
On a scorching afternoon when the ball was carrying, the AL Central leaders returned from the All-Star break and won for the eighth time in nine games. They also took out a team showing some spark after struggling most of the way.
Moustakas hit a solo homer in the fifth on the 12th pitch of the at-bat to give the Royals a 2-1 lead, and Rios capped a two-run sixth with his drive off Jeff Samardzija (6-5) after Chicago tied it.
“That’s part of what we’re looking for, is a little bit of boost in the second half, Alex getting to where he was before he broke his hand,” manager Ned Yost said. “Omar (Infante) has been swinging the bat much better. If we get some more offense in the bottom of the order, it’d be key.”
All-Star Lorenzo Cain had two hits, including an RBI double for the Royals. He is 21 for 42 in his past 11 games.
Chris Young (8-5) gave up two runs and three hits, including solo homers to Geovany Soto and Adam Eaton, in five innings.
Young felt his back tightening with each inning and left the game after throwing 82 pitches.
Yost said it’s “not serious at all.” And Young expects to make his next scheduled start.
“I’m not worried about it,” Young said. “It’ll be fine. But we’re creatures of habit. And a little bit of time off (for the All-Star break), even though I tried to do my best staying in my routine, those things happen.”
Four relievers combined to shut down the White Sox the rest of the way. Closer Greg Holland gave up a pinch-hit single to Emilio Bonifacio with one out in the ninth before J.B. Shuck forced the runner and Tyler Saladino grounded out to end the game. Holland picked up his 20th save in 22 chances.
Samardzija gave up four runs and seven hits in seven innings. And the White Sox dropped their second straight after winning nine of 11.
“I just took my time out there,” Samardzija said. “I didn’t realize it was that hot out there until second and third inning. You just kind of tell yourself to slow down. It just makes every pitch that more important. You don’t want to stand out there for 20-30 pitches and start sweating.”
Chicago had just tied it at 2 on Eaton’s homer in the fifth when the Royals scored two in the sixth.
Eric Hosmer led off with a double and scored from third on Omar Infante’s double-play grounder. Rios, who missed about six weeks in April and May with a broken left hand, then made it 4-2 with his second homer of the season — and first since opening day against the White Sox.
Reliever Ryan Madson escaped a second-and-third jam in the bottom half when he retired Alexei Ramirez and Soto on back-to-back grounders.
BY THE NUMBERS
Cain is batting .345 (30 for 87) in day games for Kansas City. … Hosmer is 13 for 40 over his past 10 games. … White Sox starters have a 2.36 ERA in their past 13 games.
Royals: RHP Kris Medlen (elbow) rejoined the team and the team will decide in the next two or three days whether to activate him. He is recovering from his second Tommy John surgery and has not pitched in the majors since 2013, when he won 15 games for Atlanta.
White Sox: GM Rick Hahn said RHP Matt Albers (fractured right pinky finger) and RHP Nate Jones, recovering from Tommy John surgery on his pitching elbow, are progressing in their rehabilitation. RHP Jesse Crain (shoulder), who has not pitched in the majors since 2013, had a setback in an Arizona League game last week and it’s not clear when his next outing will be.
RHP Edinson Volquez (8-4, 3.31 ERA) starts the second game for Kansas City, with LHP John Danks (4-8, 5.30) pitching for Chicago.