KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Right logic, bad result.
The White Sox paid the price Friday night after avoiding Billy Butler, one inning after Butler hit a game-tying home run.
After an intentional walk to Butler, Salvador Perez golfed a 1-2 pitch around his ankles and over the head of left fielder Dayan Viciedo for a two-run double in the seventh that helped the Royals hand the Sox a baffling 4-2 loss.
Perez hit his game-winning double off Chris Sale (14-4), who lost for the first time since July 21 in Detroit as the Sox’s lead over the Tigers in the American League Central shrunk to 11/2 games.
“I got out-pitched,” Sale said. “I screwed up, honestly. I was just bad. I have to be better than that.”
The loss also spoiled the remarkable comeback of Sox slugger Paul Konerko, who homered in his first game since suffering a concussion Aug. 7.
After taking batting practice five hours before Friday night’s game, Konerko validated his medical clearance when he launched a game-tying solo home run in his second at-bat in the fourth.
The home run was the 415th of Konerko’s career, moving him past Darrell Evans for 46th place on the all-time list. Of Konerko’s three career hits off Luis Mendoza (7-8), two have been home runs.
Sale, meanwhile, pitching for the first time since June 27 on four days’ rest, had his fastball clocked at 94 mph but was forced repeatedly to work out of jams as he retired the side in order only once.
It finally caught up with him in the seventh after Alcides Escobar executed a hit-and-run play perfectly to move Mike Moustakas to third base. After Alex Gordon struck out for the second out, the Sox selected to walk Butler intentionally to load the bases. But Perez ruined the strategy with his second double.
Perez’s hit overshadowed the progress made by Konerko, who didn’t show signs of recovery until Sunday.
He rode a stationary bicycle for 30 minutes and took 30 swings in flip drills Tuesday. He accelerated workouts Wednesday and Thursday to increase blood flow to his brain.
“I’m learning is that with another injury, you might feel good as you get it going,” Konerko said before the game. “But (with) the blood flow to the brain, if you still have some of those symptoms, it becomes escalating and becomes worse. So that’s what they’re looking for, and that didn’t happen.”
Mendoza was pulled after seven innings, and Dayan Viciedo and Gordon Beckham started the eighth with consecutive singles off Kelvin Herrera. But Dewayne Wise, pinch-hitting for Alejandro De Aza (3-for-26), struck out, as did Kevin Youkilis and Adam Dunn to kill the rally.
Former Sox second baseman Chris Getz suffered a left thumb fracture after fouling off a bunt attempt in the fifth and was lost for the remainder of the Royals’ season.