CHICAGO — Whit Merrifield had a chance to hit for the cycle. He settled for a really fun day.
Merrifield hit a three-run homer and drove in a career-high five runs, and the Kansas City Royals pounded the Chicago White Sox 14-6 on Sunday.
Drew Butera had four of Kansas City’s 16 hits, helping the Royals climb back over .500 at 59-58. Jorge Bonifacio hit his 15th homer, and Lorenzo Cain had two hits and two RBIs.
Merrifield needed a double for the cycle when he came to the plate with the bases loaded in the eighth inning. But he popped out on a shallow foul ball to right fielder Avisail Garcia.
“With the game like it was, it (the cycle) was on my mind,” Merrifield said. “Hit a ball in the gap. I made a pretty poor swing, on a slider.”
Merrifield still finished with three hits. The 28-year-old second baseman is batting .296 with 14 homers and 56 RBIs.
“He’s worked himself into a very nice major league player,” manager Ned Yost said. “He has a little power and plays solid defense.”
Jason Vargas (14-6) worked six innings to match his career high for wins set in 2012 with Seattle. The left-hander allowed three runs and six hits, struck out seven and walked two.
The Royals won the last two games of the weekend set after dropping five in a row and 10 of 12. They remain in the mix for the second AL wild card.
“We were kind of spinning our wheels for while trying to gain some momentum,” Yost said. “It’s hard to get, but easy to stop.”
Tim Anderson hit a two-run homer for AL-worst Chicago, and Garcia added a two-run double.
White Sox left-hander Derek Holland (6-12) lasted just two-plus innings in his shortest start of the year. He was charged with seven runs and seven hits.
“I don’t even know where to begin,” Holland said. “Today was just, in my eyes, embarrassing.”
Kansas City grabbed control with four runs in the second and four more in the third. Bonifacio led off the third with a drive to left and Merrifield made it 8-0 when he went deep against Mike Pelfrey.
“It does seem to come in bunches at times,” White Sox manager Rick Renteria said.
Merrifield added a two-run triple in the sixth, making it 12-3.
BY THE DOZEN
White Sox rookie Nicky Delmonico reached in his 12th straight game to begin his career, extending his team record. He also has a 10-game hitting streak.
He was hit by a pitch in the second and walked in the fourth. He also doubled home a run in the seventh and was robbed of a potential home run by a leaping grab by Alex Gordon in center for the final out of the game.
Royals: INF Mike Moustakas (left knee soreness) was the designated hitter for the second time in the three-game series at Chicago, but Yost said he hoped to have the slugger back at third base Monday in Oakland.
White Sox: INF/DH Matt Davidson said he is recovering from a bruised right wrist more slowly than expected and is still not able to swing a bat. Davidson had hoped to return this week against the Dodgers in Los Angeles. “We’re going to re-evaluate in the next couple of days and go from there,” he said. Davidson has been on the DL since being hit by a pitch by Toronto’s Marcus Stroman on Aug. 1.
Royals: RHP Jake Junis (4-2, 4.70 ERA) will be recalled from Triple-A Omaha for his eighth start Monday against Oakland. Jharel Cotton (5-9, 5.72 ERA) pitches for the Athletics in the opener of a three-game series.
White Sox: RHP Miguel Gonzalez (6-10, 4.85 ERA) faces Dodgers LHP Alex Wood (14-1, 2.37 ERA) on Tuesday in Los Angeles. Wood has won three straight since his only loss this season.