04/19/06 6:24 PM ET
Royals avoid no-hitter, but drop finale
Mientkiewicz gets first hit for KC on squibber in seventh inning
By Kerry Walls / Special to MLB.com
Couple that with another magical start from a White Sox pitcher -- Javier Vazquez -- and it equals a 4-0 loss, a three-game sweep to the defending champs and a 10-game losing streak heading home to Kansas City on Friday.
The Royals could only muster three hits overall -- two off Vazquez -- and they didn't have a hit in the game until Doug Mientkiewicz's check-swing infield single with one out in the seventh.
"Obviously, we're not very aggressive at the plate," manager Buddy Bell said. "Looks like we're afraid to make an out. You can't approach any game, any play like that.
"Right now we got a lot of guys who aren't swinging very well and trying to guide the ball and not really as aggressive as they need to be at the plate."
It was the second stellar outing for Vazquez against Kansas City this season. He allowed just two runs in seven innings at Kauffman Stadium on April 8 in the last game the Royals won.
"He was probably better than we saw him over in Kansas City," Bell said. "He was good."
While the skipper was quick to credit Vazquez, he also knows the Royals hitters share some of the burden for the team's recent swoon.
"I don't want to take anything away from him," Bell said, "but I think he caught us at a pretty good time.
"Right now, because we haven't won in a while, guys are swinging for the fences. We've got to slow it down a bit, have better at-bats."
Kansas City starter Scott Elarton had been the one constant on the mound this season, pitching at least five innings in all three starts. But he was unable to get out of the fifth, with command issues again coming to the forefront.
"Just struggling for command early," Elarton said. "I was really feeling for things. I didn't have command of any pitch. I tried to go to the offspeed stuff and luckily got out of [the first inning, which saw him give up one hit and three walks] with just one run. After that, I felt like I had pretty good command and just didn't pitch out of it in the fifth."
Elarton walked four, including an intentional pass, and has surrendered 16 walks in 24 1/3 innings this season.
"I thought Scotty battled pretty well today," Bell said. "I don't think he had his great stuff, but he kind of does what he always does -- he gets through innings and gives us a chance to win."
The offense was almost non-existent for the Royals in Chicago, scoring just one run on 11 hits over the three games. Jose Contreras, Jon Garland and Vazquez silenced the KC bats and left the team scratching its head heading back home.
"It doesn't boil down to individual performances right now," Elarton said. "It's just as a group, we're collectively terrible. It's time to get it figured out and get things together, or it's going to be miserable."
Kerry Walls is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.