CHICAGO | The White Sox were unable to slow down the surging Kansas City Royals.
Another subpar performance by a starting pitcher left the White Sox in an early catch-up mode on Sunday, when the Royals handed them a 6-3 loss, their fourth in a row.
Andre Rienzo (4-4) allowed six runs and six hits in the first four innings before he settled down. He remained winless since May 20, but could keep his spot in the rotation because of a lack of viable options at the minor and major league levels.
"Right now, we'll keep going with him," manager Robin Ventura said. "We'll re-access (the situation). He has just got to pitch better. That would help, too."
Long home runs accounted for five of the runs, a two-run, 431-foot blast by Eric Hosmer in the first inning and a three-run, 418-foot shot by Salvador Perez two innings later.
"I made some mistakes, and their guys enjoyed that," Rienzo said. "After the two home runs, I threw well, but they definitely hurt me and the team. I made some (better) results, but I made them late."
The White Sox had 12 hits and had at least two base runners in seven of the nine innings but stranded 13 overall.
"It is what it is," said Gordon Beckham, whose only hit came with the bases empty.
"When you're in a hole, it's definitely hard to win games. That being said, we really haven't dug our pitchers out of holes offensively much at all. So we need to do a better of that."
James Shields (8-3) won his fifth straight decision and the Royals extended their season-high win streak to seven games. He pitched out of trouble throughout his outing.
"We're playing great baseball," Hosmer said. "We're getting off to early leads. We're giving our pitchers breathing room early. The way they have been throwing for us all year, they have been lights out.
"We have to forget about this one. It was a good series for us. Any time you sweep someone in the division is huge, but we have a big series coming up against Detroit (this week)."
Shields allowed three runs and 10 hits in six innings. Greg Holland pitched a scoreless ninth for his 20th save in 21 chances.
The Royals haven't lost with Shields on the mound since May 2, and he's 5-0 in eight starts because of the Royals' 42 runs of support.
The White Sox have lost 10 of their past 11 home games against the Royals and been outscored 53-20 in them.
With one out in the first inning, Hosmer connected on a 1-2 pitch for a two-run shot to center. It was his fourth of the season.
With the Royals up 2-1 in the third inning with two outs, Billy Butler was hit by Rienzo's pitch. Alex Gordon drew a walk then Perez followed with a long homer to left field, giving the Royals a 5-1 lead. It was Perez's seventh of the season.
Mike Moustakas scored from second on Jarrod Dyson's RBI single in the fourth inning after he was initially ruled out on a force at second base. The call was overturned after a challenge.
Adam Eaton led off the first inning with a hard grounder that went underneath Hosmer's glove at first. Eaton wound up with a stand-up triple.
One pitch later, Shields appeared to have Eaton picked off at third base, but plate umpire Paul Emmel ruled that Shields did not step off the rubber and awarded Eaton home.
Royals manager Ned Yost argued the balk and was tossed by Emmel as he was headed back to the dugout. Yost then confronted Emmel for another animated conversation before leaving the game.
Alejandro De Aza had a two-run double off Shields in the fourth inning.