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Kimbrel, Bummer, Hendriks preserve White Sox victory

Luis Robert had four hits, including a home run, and Yasmani Grandal homered and had four RBI for the White Sox.

Yasmani Grandal of the White Sox celebrates a two-run home run with teammates in the first inning against the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium on September 04, 2021 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Royals All-Star Salvador Perez came up to bat in the seventh inning, representing the tying run with two outs.

This time the White Sox had All-Star right-hander Craig Kimbrel waiting for him.

After hitting his 39th and 40th home runs of the season against Reynaldo Lopez and Michael Kopech and driving in five runs, Perez was no match for Kimbrel, called on by manager Tony La Russa an inning or two earlier than usual. The timing was good with the Royals’ top of the order coming up.

“If somebody gets on base, Perez is up, and Craig had to be the guy to face him,” La Russa said. “So a lot of theater to that inning.”

Kimbrel, who struck out Sebastian Rivero and Royals leadoff man Whit Merrifield before Nicky Lopez reached first with a half-swing single to left field, got Perez to chase three breaking balls for swinging strikes. Aaron Bummer and Liam Hendriks followed with perfect eighth and ninth innings, and the Sox nailed down a 10-7 victory Saturday at Kauffman Stadium.

“We were going to make sure [Perez] wasn’t going to beat us,” catcher Yasmani Grandal said. “We used his aggressiveness to get him out, and it was a huge out.”

After Kimbrel held the Royals in check, Andrew Vaughn knocked in a run with a single to give the Sox 10 runs or more for the 15th time and fourth time in the last eight games.

Kimbrel was credited with the win, and Hendriks notched his career-best 32nd save.

Luis Robert had the second four-hit game of his career, starting it with a 452-foot homer in the first inning and adding three singles to raise his average to .343. He scored three runs.

Grandal was 3-for-3, including a homer in the first, and had four RBI. He is 12-for-22 with five homers and 15 RBI since coming off the injured list.

Kopech gives up two homers

Kopech got four outs and allowed four runs and four hits, including the homer by Perez and another by Carlos Santana.

He has allowed multiple runs in three of his last six relief outings — the four Saturday, five in one inning at Toronto on Aug. 26 and two in one inning against the Athletics on Aug. 19. His ERA climbed from 2.72 to 4.00.

Lopez goes four

Lopez pitched four innings and threw 65 pitches, allowing three runs and three hits. He pitched one inning of relief against the Pirates on Wednesday. Lopez’s string of 25 batters retired ended when Santana walked in the second inning with one out.

No. 500 for Abreu

Jose Abreu’s RBI double off the center-field wall in the fourth inning was his 500th career extra-base hit. Abreu singled and hit another double in the eighth inning.

Moncada sits; Gonzalez starts

Yoan Moncada, who has a sore wrist that can get aggravated when he swings right-handed, didn’t start against Royals left-hander Daniel Lynch. Romy Gonzalez, who made his debut off the bench in a 7-2 loss Friday, started at third base and got his first career RBI on a groundout.

Lambert in the mix

Triple-A Charlotte right-hander Jimmy Lambert is with the team and could factor in plans for a needed pitcher Tuesday in Oakland. A bullpen game is a possibility.

“Jimmy is very likely to be activated for that game,” La Russa said.