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White Sox swept away in Kansas City

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Fight and effort is nice, admirable even, but it isn’t getting the White Sox anywhere as the dog days of August settle in.

They came back twice against the Kansas City Royals, the defending American League champions, the class of their division and their longtime nemesis, but all they had to show for trying hard was a third loss by one run in three games in the series, the last one a 5-4 defeat Sunday to complete a series sweep.

The Sox have been good enough to piece together two nice winning streaks this season, a six-game run in May against the Brewers and A’s, and a seven-game sizzler right before the trade deadline against the Indians and Boston. Unable to cope with prosperity, they followed the first streak with seven losses in eight games and the latest one with eight losses in 10 to drop them to 51-57.

And to think the Sox were toying with hanging around in the Wild Card chase. That latest streak was just enough to coax them into keeping Jeff Samardzija around, but now they are seven games behind in the Wild Card chase with five teams between them and a berth. And with no ability to sustain consistency, be sure that the front office is mapping out the remainder of the season with next year in mind.

“These guys are grinding,’’ manager Robin Ventura said of his team after the Royals showed the Sox where they stand by defeating them for the 10th time in 13 games. “They’re not laying down.

“I like the effort they had. We just didn’t get it done.’’

The up-and-down Sox fought back from deficits of 3-0 and 4-3 but the Royals had the final say with a run in the eighth. The Sox had tied it on Melky Cabrera’s two-out single scoring Adam Eaton (double) from third in the top of the eighth, but the Royals answered in the bottom of the inning with a run against right-hander Jake Petricka (3-3) on Omar Infante’s infield single that pushed home Alex Rios (double) from third. Infante hit a spinner toward first baseman Jose Abreu, who charged and made a barehand pickup, but Rios beat the high throw to catcher Geovany Soto.

“If everything would have gone perfect, sure, but the game is so fast,’’ Petricka said when asked if Abreu had a shot. “He made a great play on it and you have to try to get that out.

“The team that puts the ball in play gets breaks like that. Hats off to a team that just fights like that.’’

The Sox, on the other hand, didn’t put in in play after Trayce Thompson (single) reached third with one out in the fourth. Reliever Kris Medlen, summoned early to replace quick-hooked starter Danny Duffy right then and there, struck out Tyler Flowers and Gordon Beckham with runners on second and third.

Adding to a log of negatives on the bases this trip, Adam Eaton was picked off first when his foot slipped off the bag as he went back standing up, Eric Hosmer applying the tag for the first out of the fifth. This less than 24 hours after Geovany Soto was picked off second with Jose Abreu at bat.

These are the things that catch up to you, and in the Sox case this weekend, against a good team that beat them by one run each game, there is no margin for error.

“We play the first-place team in the division and tried to get wins but all three games were for one run,’’ starting pitcher Jose Quintana said. “These were hard.’’

Quintana (6 2/3 innings, four runs) who has never beaten the Royals, made it hard on the Sox by allowing three in the first, the big blast a Kendrys Morales home run.