Greinke can't change "Cell" plan in loss
Righty goes three-plus innings; Butler drives in four runs
CHICAGO -- For Zack Greinke, this ballpark is a House of Horrors.
When the Chicago White Sox finished off a 9-5 victory over the Royals on Friday night, Greinke's record at U.S. Cellular Field fell to 0-6. That goes along with a 7.78 ERA here in eight games, six of them starts.
Kind of makes a guy start to wonder about this place, doesn't it?
"Yeah, I'm starting to. It's starting to come into my head a little bit," Greinke said. "It's kind of always been like that at this park."
It seems so. Here was Greinke, who was anointed the Royals' No. 1 starter as the second half began, trying to ace his first test. Instead, it was a nightmare.
In the first inning alone, the White Sox sprayed seven singles around the lot which, combined with a hit batter and a sacrifice fly, produced six runs. Jermaine Dye hit a two-run single with the bases loaded to start the scoring.
"It was kind of weird. Six pitches, five people on base. So, before you knew it, it was really bad," Greinke said. "After that, they were still hitting whatever I threw."
As the 36,291 fans were just getting settled, the first eight White Sox batters reached base. Two singles, a hit batter, then five more singles in succession. Finally, Greinke got three straight flyouts to end the misery.
"It didn't look like they took four days off," Royals reliever Joel Peralta said. "They been practicing every day or what?"
Carlos Quentin hit Greinke's first pitch of the second inning out of the park for a 7-1 lead and his 23rd homer. That was all the scoring against Greinke, but only because, after the White Sox loaded the bases against him in the fourth, Peralta got three outs without allowing a run.
Even so, "the Cell" remained Greinke's sore spot. Conversely, in eight games against the Sox at Kauffman Stadium, Greinke is 2-2 with a 2.93 ERA. Overall, he's 2-8 in his 16 games against the White Sox.
"I saw the numbers," Greinke said. "I've got almost 90 innings now [against the Sox] and two wins. So that's not too good. That's almost like half a season with only two wins."
White Sox starter Mark Buehrle had smooth sailing for a while. After an error in the first, Mark Grudzielanek smacked an RBI single. On the play, right fielder Dye threw out Billy Butler at third base and Buehrle didn't give up another hit until David DeJesus singled to lead off the sixth.
Before that inning was over, though, Mark Teahen also singled and Butler lofted a three-run homer into the left-field seats, cutting the gap to 7-4. It was Butler's third homer.
The White Sox got back two runs in the sixth, an inning in which reliever Jimmy Gobble faced three batters, walking two and plunking the other.
The plunk of Paul Konerko, however, was the subject of a long appeal by Royals manager Trey Hillman to home plate umpire Alfonso Marquez. Hillman wondered if Gobble's pitch really did catch Konerko in the back foot, even though he limped painfully all the way to first base.
"It probably did, with his back foot and his immediate reaction," Hillman said. "My point was, 'Check, maybe somebody else saw it.' He said nobody was going to see it."
Besides, Hillman conceded that Konerko probably wouldn't fake being hit if he had a chance to swing against Gobble. Konerko is 5-for-6 with four homers against the Royals' lefty.
Butler boosted his harvest to four RBIs with a run-scoring single in the eighth against reliever Nick Masset. He also pounded a deep fly to center that was caught in the fourth.
"It's all about going up there and hitting the ball on the screws, hitting the ball hard every time," Butler said. "It's not going to work out every time, but if you get good swings, it's going to work out more than it's not."
The victory gave Buehrle a 17-7 career record over the Royals including 9-2 at U.S. Cellular.
The Royals are 1-6 against the first-place White Sox so far this season.
Come to think of it, this ballpark is something of a House of Horrors for the Royals in general. They've lost their last six games here, including all four this season.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.