Kansas City Royals left fielder Alex Gordon (4). Photo by Jeff Moffett/UPI | License Photo
CHICAGO -- The Kansas City Royals are back to winning games, but now they've got a few injury situations to monitor heading into the final weekend of the regular season.
They won their second straight game Thursday by beating the Chicago White Sox 6-4 at U.S. Cellular Field, but more key players left the game early or didn't play at all.
"They're very trivial (issues), day-to-day, probably overly-cautious concerns," said manager Ned Yost, who didn't seem too concerned about the spate of aches and pains. "We're just trying to do the smart thing."
Designated hitter Kendrys Morales left in the fifth inning with tightness in his left quadriceps, catcher Salvador Perez departed after jamming his right thumb during an at-bat in the seventh and Wade Davis, who took over the closer's role in lieu of Greg Holland's season-ending ligament tear, wasn't used in a save situation because of a back issue.
All of that was piled on top of star center fielder Lorenzo Cain not playing because of a contusion on his right knee and right fielder Alex Rios being scratched from the lineup because of tightness in his back.
"(Morales) is fine," Yost said. "It's just some tightness in his quad. We're just being extra precautionary right now. Rios had the stiff back, Wade had a bit of a stiff back, so I'm trying to stay away from him. (Perez) got jammed (and) his thumb was a little sore with the cold weather."
The good news for the Royals (92-67) is what has happened in the past two games. After losing four of five, they head into the final regular-season series in Minnesota with a chance to win home-field advantage through the playoffs.
Thursday's victory pulled them even with the Toronto Blue Jays for the best record in the American League, which won the All-Star game and home-field advantage in the World Series.
As for the game, the Royals did something they've rarely done against White Sox left-hander John Danks. They roughed up the veteran starter for six runs on 11 of their 13 hits, paving the way for Kris Medlen (6-2) to earn the win.
Kansas City had five hitters record multi-hit games, led by third baseman Mike Moustakas (2-for-5, two RBIs) and right fielder Jonny Gomes (1-for-2, three RBIs).
Jose Abreu went 2-for-4 with two RBIs to lead the White Sox (74-85).
The Cuban-born slugger's two-run single in the seventh off right-hander Luke Hochevar cut Kansas City's lead to 6-4 and put him into the history books for the second straight night.
His home run Wednesday, also off Hochevar, was his 30th of the season and tied him with Albert Pujols and Ryan Braun as the only players in major league history to hit at least that many in their first two seasons. The two RBIs a day later gave him 101 for the season, which tied him with Pujols as the only major league players with at least 30 homers and 100 RBIs in their first two seasons.
"I am very excited," Abreu said, according to White Sox interpreter Billy Russo. "I was thinking a lot about it every time (I went to the plate). I tried to not think about it, but I couldn't do it because it was something that was in my head. It is a big honor to see my name along with Albert. He's one of the greatest players in the history of baseball and now I have the opportunity to see my name next to his."
The Royals' bullpen recovered to preserve the win for Medlen, who allowed two runs (one earned) on four hits and finished strong by retiring the final 10 hitters he faced.
Chicago had the tying runs on base with two outs in the eighth, but Alexei Ramirez was thrown out at the plate to end the inning.
Right-hander Ryan Madson closed it out in the ninth for his third save.
Danks had a great track record against the Royals coming into the game, but this outing was an outlier. The veteran left-hander allowed four runs on seven hits through the first three innings, and two more runs in the fifth.
"They found some holes," Danks said. "(My) command wasn't where it needs to be, but I certainly felt like I threw the ball better than the line shows. You gotta tip your hat. They put the bat on the ball and found some holes, made things happen and it is what it is."
NOTES: Royals CF Lorenzo Cain fouled a pitch off his right knee in the seventh inning Wednesday. X-rays didn't show any fractures. "He's going to be fine," manager Ned Yost said. ... White Sox 2B Micah Johnson underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left knee Thursday to remove scar tissue. He is expected to be fully recovered for spring training. ... The White Sox announced that upgrades will be made to U.S. Cellular Field by Opening Day next season. Highlighting the improvements will be three large video boards along the outfield concourse. The project was approved by the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority, which owns the stadium.