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Wood splinters in loss
08/03/2004 11:07 PM ET
KANSAS CITY -- The Royals not only lost a game Tuesday, but Mike Sweeney.

Sweeney, who has been bothered by back problems this season and last year, left after four innings with back spasms in the Royals' 12-4 loss to the White Sox, who scored eight two-out runs.

Sweeney, who leads the Royals with 20 home runs and 71 RBIs, missed six games in early July with tightness in his back. Sweeney, however, has been struggling lately, going 4-for-29 (.138) in his past eight games.

"I was just trying to get through this game," Sweeney said. "The last week it has been tight in my lower back. Going into the game tonight, it felt great, but in the second or third inning I was getting ready for a pitch and it just locked up. Hopefully, it is day-to-day and I'll be back real soon."

Sweeney said the spasms are in his lower right back, "a little lower" than the tightness that caused him to leave a game last month in Minnesota.

"I don't think it is exactly the same thing," Sweeney said. "They are treating it as muscle spasms. I'll get some good anti-inflammatory (drugs), a muscle relaxor tonight, get it iced and a massage. My prayers are I'll wake up tomorrow and feel great.

   Mike Sweeney  /   1B
Born: 07/22/73
Height: 6'3"
Weight: 225 lbs
Bats: R / Throws: R

Even a healthy Sweeney, who is listed as day-to-day, likely would have made little difference in the series opener against the White Sox, who pounded four home runs to send the Royals to their 12th loss in 15 games.

"It is frustrating," Sweeney said. "When you think it can't get any worse, it does. As bad as it seems to get, I know it could always be worse."

Joe Crede snapped an 0-for-11 skid with a solo home run in the third. Paul Konerko hit a grand slam, the sixth of his career and his first this season, with two outs in the fifth off Royals' rookie starter Mike Wood to make it 7-0. Aaron Rowand hit a three-run homer in the sixth off reliever Dennys Reyes. Jose Valentin hit his 23rd home run in the ninth off Scott Sullivan.

Wood walked Timo Perez and nicked Carlos Lee with a pitch before Konerko's grand slam.

"A couple of other things went wrong," Wood said before the grand slam. "It all came down to that one pitch. It is four runs later and I'm out of the game. It was a fastball in on the black, but I guess he was looking for it because he turned on it pretty well. I don't know if it was a strike or not.

   Mike Wood  /   P
Born: 04/26/80
Height: 6'3"
Weight: 210 lbs
Bats: R / Throws: R

"It's one pitch I'd Iike to take back. It just didn't have my sink. It pretty much ended my inning. It could have been three to nothing and we ended up scoring four runs that inning and could have taken the lead and given the guys a lot of drive."

The Royals made it interesting in the bottom of the fifth with four runs, two unearned after a Crede error, off right-hander Jose Conteras, who was making his White Sox debut after being acquired in a Saturday trade with the Yankees.

Ken Harvey led off the Royals' fifth with his 13th home run, driving a 1-0 pitch out to the opposite field. Abraham Nunez singled after Harvey's home run. With one out, Joe Buck hit a liner past third baseman Crede that should have been caught.

Ruben Gotay, who was promoted from Double-A Wichita earlier in the day, singled to center to drive in Nunez for his first Major League hit and RBI. David DeJesus' single scored Buck and moved Gotay to third. Joe Randa's sacrifice fly made it 7-4.

   Ken Harvey  /   DH
Born: 03/01/78
Height: 6'2"
Weight: 240 lbs
Bats: R / Throws: R

"I could tell I didn't have my stuff from the get-go," Wood said. "I seemed to throw the ball in the dirt a lot tonight. I don't know what the deal was. I usually get ground balls and tonight was a lot of fly balls. I didn't make my pitches when I needed to. Something was wrong. I wish I knew what it was.

"Our hitters did their job tonight. I should have kept the game closer and I didn't."

Reyes, who replaced Wood to start the sixth, could not keep it close, either, as Rowand's three-run shot to straightaway center made it 10-4. The Royals managed just one hit after the fifth.

Wood, who was one of the three prospects the Royals acquired in the Carlos Beltran trade, dropped to 1-4. Making his seventh start and winless since his June 29 Royals' debut, Wood gave up seven runs on six hits, two walks and a hit batter.

"They have so much power," Royals manager Tony Pena said. "You walk guys and you are going to pay for it. They are going to haunt you. That grand slam changed the game around."

Ryan Bukvich, the third of five Royals pitchers, faced four White Sox batters in the eighth, but retired none, allowing a run on three walks and a single. He walked Willie Harris, who had three hits, with the bases loaded. Nate Field came in with the bases still loaded and none out, but did not allow another run as he struck out two.

The White Sox continued their mastery over the Royals. They have won 16 of the past 21 games against the Royals, scoring 164 runs and hitting 44 home runs.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


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