The Kansas City Royals ' slump has dropped them further back in the playoff race, and their postseason hopes likely will continue fading unless their suddenly stagnant offense can get back on track.
An improved pitching performance from Jeremy Guthrie wouldn't hurt matters, either.
Kansas City looks to avoid a fourth straight loss Wednesday night as it hosts the last-place Chicago White Sox, who are seeking a season-best fifth consecutive win.
The Royals (64-60) were four games out of the AL's second wild-card spot and 6 1/2 back of Central-leading Detroit before dropping six of eight.
They've averaged 2.0 runs during their cold stretch and are now 8 1/2 games out of the division lead with their wild-card chances also slipping away. Kansas City had problems again Tuesday, falling 2-0 in the series opener.
"We're just not swinging the bats real well right now," manager Ned Yost said. "We're going to have to find a way to swing the bats better."
Alex Gordon went 1 for 4 and is hitting .143 during the team's slump.
"We weren't doing anything offensively, and then ( John Danks ) got ahead of us," Gordon said. "Give credit to him, but we just didn't do a very good job offensively."
Guthrie (12-9, 4.15 ERA) has struggled as well lately. He's dropped two straight starts after winning his previous four, allowing five runs in six innings of a 5-3 loss to Boston on Aug. 10 before giving up four runs and a career-worst 13 hits in Thursday's 4-1 defeat at Detroit.
The right-hander had gone 3-0 with a 0.40 ERA in his last six starts against the White Sox, including a four-hit shutout May 4, but gave up six runs in 2 1-3 inning of a 9-1 defeat the last time he faced them June 21.
"He has tremendous stuff, and we did a good job of making him throw it over the plate," Chicago's Adam Dunn said after that contest. "He threw some good pitches and we were able to lay off them."
Avisail Garcia had three hits Tuesday and is batting .429 during a seven-game hitting streak for the White Sox (50-74), who have won four straight for the first time since May 14-17.
The final victory in that streak, 3-0 over the Los Angeles Angels , marked Chicago's last shutout prior to Tuesday.
"Hopefully this will get us on a little streak to finish the season on a high," Danks said.
White Sox starters have a 1.95 ERA during the team's run as rookie Andre Rienzo takes the hill Wednesday.
Rienzo (0-0, 3.70) has been solid in four starts since being called up July 30. He allowed two runs and four hits in six innings before Minnesota rallied to beat the White Sox 4-3 on Thursday.
The right-hander didn't walk a batter after issuing at least three free passes in each of his first three outings.
"I tried to give the team a chance to win," Rienzo said. "That's my job. I was so-so, but giving the team a chance to win is my focus."
The White Sox have a 2.16 ERA against Kansas City this season, but they're 6-7 in the series.
|Alejandro De Aza||13||.385||5||0||1||0||2||.385||.847||.462|
|Chicago White Sox|
|August 20, 2013||Jeff Keppinger||Day-to-Day||Stiff lower back|
|August 16, 2013||Ramon Troncoso||15-Day DL||Pericarditis|
|August 15, 2013||Gordon Beckham||Day-to-Day||Strained right quad|
|August 05, 2013||Dayan Viciedo||Day-to-Day||Jammed left thumb|
|July 30, 2013||Alex Rios||Day-to-Day||Left foot contusion|
|July 21, 2013||Gordon Beckham||Day-to-Day||Strained ligament, left wrist|
|Kansas City Royals|
|August 13, 2013||Mike Moustakas||Day-to-Day||Strained left calf|
|August 11, 2013||Miguel Tejada||60-Day DL||Strained right calf|
|August 09, 2013||Lorenzo Cain||15-Day DL||Strained left oblique|
|August 04, 2013||Salvador Perez||7-Day DL||Concussion|
|August 04, 2013||David Lough||Day-to-Day||Right quad tightness|
|August 04, 2013||Salvador Perez||7-Day DL||Concussion|
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -- Andre Rienzo started playing baseball in Brazil because his mother played softball. He fell in love with it even though all the kids around him were kicking around a soccer ball.
On Wednesday night, he may have inspired other youngsters back home to pick up a glove.
The White Sox rookie pitched six innings and took advantage of a five-run frame highlighted by Dayan Viciedo 's grand slam for a 5-2 victory over the Kansas City Royals . It gave Rienzo the first win for a pitcher from his South American country where baseball is nary a second thought.
"Brazil is just about soccer. I'm trying to open doors," explained Rienzo, whose brothers also play baseball back home. "It's all soccer, soccer, soccer. I hope that I will open doors and people will see more guys playing baseball."
Rienzo (1-0) allowed only a sacrifice fly to Mike Moustakas while slicing through a scuffling Royals lineup. The right-hander allowed just five hits and two walks in helping the White Sox win their season-best fifth straight game.
Addison Reed worked the ninth for his second save of the series and 33rd on the year.
"Again, it's just one of those nights where he battled," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said of Rienzo, who earned his first career win in his fifth big league start. "He gave up a couple walks but he was able to fight his way out of it, get a groundball when he needed it. Just a good, gutsy job by him. Once you get him that lead, he just kind of worked it."
Viciedo's grand slam off Jeremy Guthrie (12-10) in the fourth followed an RBI single by Adam Dunn that had given the White Sox the lead. Their five runs in the frame matched the number of runs the Royals' woeful offense had mustered in the previous 22 innings.
David Lough drove in another run for the Royals in the sixth, but that was all they managed in another lackluster offensive performance. They finished with six hits on the night.
The Royals were shut out by John Danks and the White Sox bullpen in the series opener, and their inability to get anybody home has been the biggest reason they've lost four straight and seven of their last nine. That calamitous slide has dropped Kansas City from wild-card contention after climbing within four games of the final spot just over a week ago.
"We have just not played well. There's no rhyme or reason," designated hitter Billy Butler said. "In 162 games it's going to happen. We're in a tough stretch and we're just not hitting. We're not getting guys in when we have them in position."
On this night, it was Rienzo who took a turn breezing through the Royals.
The 25-year-old from Sao Paulo, one of just two Brazilians in the big leagues, didn't allow a hit until back-to-back singles in the fourth. He allowed another in the fifth and two in the sixth.
Otherwise, he was basically untouchable - just as he had been in the minors.
After rocketing through two levels last season, Rienzo began catching the eye of White Sox brass at Triple-A Charlotte. He was 4-0 with a 1.23 ERA over his last four starts, including a no-hitter on July 25 - just before his call-up to the big league team.
Rienzo's rise hasn't been without controversy, though. He was suspended for 50 games early last season after testing positive for a performance-enhancing substance.
The smile on his face Wednesday night seemed to indicate that incident is long in the past.
"Viciedo hit the grand slam. The defense played great. I'm glad," Rienzo said.
Guthrie wasn't feeling nearly as pleased in the Kansas City clubhouse. He threw 72 of 100 pitches for strikes, an exceptionally high rate, but couldn't get many hitters to miss them.
After winning four straight, he's been savagely roughed up in his last three starts. He gave up five runs on 10 hits in a loss to Boston a couple weeks ago, and four runs on a career-high 13 hits at Detroit in another defeat his last time out.
"I dug myself into a big hole," Guthrie said. "I made mistakes tonight."
NOTES: Viciedo finished with three hits for Chicago. ... The White Sox optioned OF Blake Tekotte to Triple-A Charlotte after the game. They'll make a corresponding roster move Wednesday. ... Guthrie threw a pitch in the second inning that slipped past C Salvador Perez and got lost in the padding around advertisements behind home plate. The exact same thing happened to a passed ball thrown by Royals RHP Ervin Santana the previous night. ... White Sox LHP Jose Quintana goes to the mound in the series finale on Thursday night. RHP James Shields gets the start for Kansas City.