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Nick Madrigal gets four hits as White Sox sweep Royals

Dylan Cease pitched six innings of two-run ball as the Sox extended their winning streak to four games.

AP Photos

So much for worry over that 0-for-8 start.

And so much for worry after the White Sox’ 1-4 start.

Second baseman Nick Madrigal, called up for his major-league debut Friday, put two rough offensive days and a sleepless kind of night behind him and rapped four consecutive singles Sunday, providing a spark in the Sox’ 9-2 victory over the Royals, a win that completed their first series sweep in Kansas City since 2015 and put them above .500 for the first time.

The Sox (5-4) take a four-game winning streak into Milwaukee for games against the Brewers on Monday and Tuesday, and Madrigal figures to be in the lineup again. Against the Royals (3-7), the 5-7 rookie drafted fourth overall in 2018 scored two runs and knocked one in with his fourth hit, a single in the Sox’ seven-run seventh inning that broke a tie game wide open. Madrigal batted twice in the inning as the Sox sent 11 batters to the plate.

In the ninth, he was out at first on a close play, nearly beating scrambling first baseman Salvador Perez to the bag in a race for an infield single that would’ve been hit No. 5.

“Gosh, I thought that one was through,” said Madrigal, seemingly not satisfied with four hits. “Then I’m curious to see a replay on that. I thought it was going to be close. I was shocked he made that play. At the end of the day, I kind of just laughed about it. But, yeah, it was close.”

Madrigal’s first single was the most sharply hit, a liner to right against Royals starter Jakob Junis.

“It’s hard when everyone knows that you haven’t got a hit yet, so they kind of joke with you, and the pressure builds up,” Madrigal said. “And once I saw that first one fall, I felt the weight lifted off me definitely.

“I didn’t get a lot of sleep last night, I’m going to be honest with you. It’s something I was thinking about, and it’s a huge sigh of relief once I got the first one.”

Madrigal also hit a soft liner to right and grounded two singles through the middle of the infield.

“I felt like I had been seeing the ball pretty well, just nothing to show for it,” he said. “I tried to stay positive. I wasn’t getting down at all. Kind of just thinking, ‘It’s going to come around.’ ’’

Right-hander Dylan Cease, bouncing back from a rough start against the Indians in which he failed to finish four innings, was much better, allowing two runs, five hits and a walk in six innings. Cease struck out four and was more efficient than his first start, throwing 83 pitches, 54 for strikes.

“The biggest thing was I was a little bit more under control, made sure I wasn’t rushing on the mound and just trying to be aggressive,” Cease said.

“I was able to throw my slider for strikes today. Just having a second pitch that you can utilize like that is definitely huge.”

The Sox felt a sense of urgency even before they started an abbreviated 60-game season, then lost two of three to the Twins in the season-opening series and got swept in a doubleheader against the Indians, but “nobody was panicked,” Cease said.

“The morale is way better,” Cease said. “We’re back over .500 now. We have enough vets on the team to calm everyone down. It definitely feels better to be on the positive side of .500.”

The Sox cranked out 14 hits, none of them a home run, a day after getting 21 in an 11-5 win. Yasmani Grandal drove in three runs, and Nicky Delmonico had two RBI.

“It’s nice to see them all contribute,” manager Rick Renteria said. “These guys go out, they’re comfortable and relaxed, and we just have to keep it going.”