Dallas Keuchel’s strong start goes to waste; Royals take series from White Sox

Keuchel knows he wasn’t good in July. He knows that needs to change. His first start of August was a step in the right direction.

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Dallas Keuchel knows he wasn’t good in July.

He knows that needs to change.

August is here, and in Keuchel’s first start of the month, the veteran left-hander took a turn for the better, allowing two runs and three hits over six innings Thursday night in the White Sox’ 3-2 loss to the Royals at Guaranteed Rate Field.

“Tonight felt really, really, really good,” Keuchel said. “It just kind of sucks seeing a loss next to your name, going out there and doing everything you possibly can.”

A two-out, two-run double by Emmanuel Rivera in the first inning put Keuchel in a hole, but he deserved better. The line drive flew right at center fielder Adam Engel, who didn’t seem to see it well and turned the wrong way, allowing the ball to get past him while Salvador Perez and Hunter Dozier scored.

“I heard him say it — I think he lost it for a minute,” manager Tony La Russa said.

After that, Keuchel didn’t allow a hit until the sixth; he then recorded his fourth and fifth strikeouts — both on cutters — against Perez and Dozier, the Royals’ 3-4 hitters.

“I thought I pitched well, just didn’t pitch great enough,” Keuchel said. “Nights like this sting you. This one will stay with me for a little bit.”

Trying to prevent the Sox from falling to 9-11 since the All-Star break, Keuchel (7-5) did his part. He sounded like a team leader trying to keep his team on edge as they held a 9½-game division lead over the Indians, who also lost.

“We just didn’t get the win, and we value wins more than anything in this game,” Keuchel said. “We have to take that game. It started with me.”

Keuchel pitched around three walks and lowered his ERA to 4.44, the highest in a rotation that entered with a 3.26 ERA, best in the American League.

Keuchel, 33, the 2015 AL Cy Young Award winner and the only Sox starter not taking extra rest this time through the rotation, pitched to a 6.26 ERA in July. He hadn’t had a month that bad since May 2016, when he had a 6.63 ERA with the Astros.

“I’ve just got to be better. I’ve got to clean up that one small [mech-anical] flaw,” he said after his last outing against the Indians, in which he gave up five runs in 5 „ innings.

In the first inning Thursday against Royals lefty Daniel Lynch, Jose Abreu homered for the second time in two nights and the 20th time this season. But it was the only run of support for Keuchel, who couldn’t prevent the fourth-place Royals from winning the series.

The Sox had six hits and struck out nine times.

“We’re chasing too many,” La Russa said. “We are punching out quite a bit here lately.”

The Sox put the leadoff man on base in the fourth, fifth and sixth but didn’t score. With two on and no outs in the sixth, Andrew Vaughn hit into a double play, and Royals first baseman Carlos Santana made a good stop on a sharply hit ball by Yoan Moncada.

Reynaldo Lopez relieved Keuchel and served up a homer to Edward Olivares in the seventh, giving the Royals a 3-1 lead. Engel leaped at the wall, the ball glancing off his glove.

Eloy Jimenez, who’s 3-for-22 since coming off the injured list, doubled Cesar Hernandez (2-for-4) home in the eighth to make it 3-2. The Sox went down in order in the ninth against lefty Jake Brentz, who got his first save.

“Dallas pitched really well,” La Russa said. “We’re just having trouble stringing hits together. We’ve just got to fix that.”

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