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Anderson’s homer in 12th helps White Sox halt seven-game skid

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — It was a good thing having Carlos Rodon on the mound Wednesday night, as good a candidate as any to stop the bleed of a seven-game losing streak oozing over the mess of this White Sox September.

First came word this month that outfielder Eloy Jimenez, overly qualified to receive a September call-up, if not sooner, was not getting promoted. Worse yet, then came the gut-wrenching blow that Michael Kopech had blown out his elbow and would need Tommy John Surgery and miss all of the 2019 season.

Since the Kopech news, a team that won 17 of 29 games in August and two of their first three in September lost five games in a row, extending the losing skid to seven. Rodon set out to snuff it out in the final game of a three-game series against one of two teams worse than the Sox, and his six innings of two-run ball helped get the job done.

Tim Anderson did the rest of the heavy lifting, breaking a tie with a two-run homer in the 12th inning against Burch Smith, and seven relievers combined for six scoreless innings to give the Sox a 4-2 win that snapped the skid.

Carlos Rodon of the White Sox pitches during the first inning of the game against the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium on September 12, 2018 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Getty Images)

“The main thing is to stay focused, keep driving, keep pushing,’’ manager Rick Renteria said. “The season is not over.’’

A win avoiding a series sweep to the lowly Royals notwithstanding, it is starting to feel that way, though, for a fan base which embraced the rebuild at SoxFest and spring training, was taken aback by losing months of April, May, June and July, and then charged up again by a better brand of baseball in August and the arrival of Kopech in September. And the team itself? It seems reasonable to believe the Kopech injury staggered it, as well.

“It took one of our dominant starters out of the rotation,” said Anderson, who hit his 19th homer and finished the game by going to his left in the hole to retire Whit Merrifield. “But we have to keep going.’’

“Pitching is what wins games in the major leagues,’’ Matt Davidson said. “Obviously Kopech was a part of that.’’

Rodon, who could be the staff ace in 2019, gave up two runs over six innings but was not at his best Wednesday walking five Royals. He did strike out five and benefited from two double plays — one on a flyball — to help him overcome three leadoff walks and four Royals stolen bases.

“Command wasn’t great today but [catcher] Omar [Narvaez] and I had to grind it out,” Rodon said.

“It’s big, man. How about the last play [Anderson] made to end the game? Ball in the hole, helluva throw. Strong armed it. The kid does it all. You don’t want to miss an at-bat or ball hit to him because something special is going to happen.”

Third baseman Jose Rondon belted his fifth homer in his 77th at-bat, a two-run shot against Royals lefty Eric Skoglund to give the Sox a 2-1 lead in the fourth. The Royals got RBI singles from Adalberto Mondesi in the third and fifth innings.

The Sox (57-89) need to win six of their last 16 games to avoid losing 100 for the fourth time in franchise history and for the first time since they went 56-106 in 1971. They were 67-95 in the first season of the rebuild last year.

“We don’t want to lose 100, not at all,’’ Davidson said. “Nobody would want to do that.

“I think we’re paying more attention to where we’re at, trying to catch Detroit [in third place in the AL Central], chasing the people ahead of us.’’

Anderson said he wasn’t exactly sure what the Sox record was, “but losing 100 would be something to avoid.”

“I can’t quite put a label on the losing,’’ Anderson said. “We just have to continue to play, pick one another up and keep battling.’’

Hector Santiago pitched a perfect 12th for his second save.