CHICAGO -- With their starting pitcher on a pitch count and down two relievers in the bullpen because of overuse on Saturday, the Kansas City Royals understood the importance of efficiency.
An extended appearance by Joakim Soria and a timely Lorenzo Cain home run certainly did not hurt.
Cain homered and Soria worked two scoreless innings in a 2-1 win over the scuffling Chicago White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field.
Soria (2-1) picked up the win after starter Danny Duffy pitched 4 1/3 scoreless innings. He pitched out of a bases-loaded jam and limited the damage to a single run in the seventh inning for the Royals (22-20), who have won five straight games.
"We win on pitching and defense," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "Today was a really good example of it."
After Cain's homer gave the Royals a 2-0 lead in the sixth inning, Soria helped preserve the slim cushion.
The White Sox (25-18) cut the deficit to 2-1 when Dioner Navarro scored on a double play grounder by Jose Abreu.
Soria got Todd Frazier to ground out, stranding the tying run on third base.
"Obviously, it was a tough situation," Soria said. "But I'm glad we worked it out we were trying to keep the ball on the ground."
For the White Sox, who have lost eight of their last 10 games, capitalizing on scoring opportunities continued to be problematic. Only managing one run after loading the bases offered the latest dose of frustration for a team that has seen its lead in the American League Central dwindle over the past week.
"It's a little frustrating," said Frazier, who was 0-for-4 including the inning-ending groundout in the seventh inning. "You get one opportunity and sometimes, that is all you get during a game. You know, I had a chance to drive in one run there, maybe two and just didn't get the job done."
The Royals bullpen, on the other hand, did finish the job. With Yost trying to steer clear of Kelvin Herrera and Luke Hochevar, Yost relied on Soria to work two innings for the first time since 2011.
Jarrod Dyson paced the Royals offense with three hits while Chicago's offense continued to sputter, especially with runners in scoring position.
"When you lose by a run, it's always tougher," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "There's always slim margins that make it hurt. If you get blown out 10-1, you had no chance anyway. These are always the ones you look back at the opportunities you had and they're harder to get over."
Yost again kept Duffy on a strict pitch count for his second spot start of the season. Duffy made the most of the 63 pitches he threw and held the White Sox to four hits while striking out three.
"I was just trying to go out there and get outs," Duffy said.
Yost said he will continue to evaluate Duffy's role on a daily basis. He also said whether Duffy continues in the rotation or returns to the bullpen, the Royals aren't in a bad situation either way.
Kansas City took a 1-0 lead in the first inning on an Eric Hosmer sacrifice fly that scored Alcides Escobar, who singled to lead off the game. Duffy made the lead stand up until the sixth when Cain who was 2-for-3 led off with a solo home run off of White Sox starter Miguel Gonzalez.
Gonzalez (0-1), who made his fourth start of the season as the White Sox continue to find a No. 5 starter, struck out eight while allowing the two earned runs on six hits over his six innings.
NOTES: Royals 3B Mike Moustakas batted second after rejoining the club on Saturday and was 0-for-4 with three strikeouts. Moustakas was placed on the 15-day disabled list on May 5 because of a fractured left thumb. ... To make room, the Royals optioned INF Cheslor Cuthbert back to Triple-A Omaha after he appeared in 13 games. Manager Ned Yost said Cuthbert could see more time at second base with Omaha after he hit .255 while filling in for Moustakas. "Did he deserve to go down (to Triple-A)? No," Yost said Saturday. "But you've got 25 guys on the team and there's just not a spot for him right now." ... White Sox RHP Jake Petricka continues to rehab from a hip injury that probably will keep him on the disabled list longer than 15 days, manager Robin Ventura said. "He still feels a little something there," Ventura said. Petricka has a 4.50 ERA in nine appearances this season.