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Bullpen struggles as White Sox lose 9-1 to Royals

Associated Press Modified: May 13, 2012 at 7:01 pm •  Published: May 13, 2012

CHICAGO (AP) — Philip Humber snapped out of his post-perfect game slump. This time, the rest of the Chicago White Sox let him down.

Humber pitched four-hit ball into the seventh inning, but the bullpen struggled and the lineup left 10 runners on base in a 9-1 loss to the Kansas City Royals on Sunday.

"Phil came out and pitched great," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "I don't know if he's as sharp as you saw him either in spring or in Seattle, but he was able to find it. He gained control of it and spotted and threw all his pitches. On the other hand, we let it get away from us."

Pinch-hitter Johnny Giavotella hit a clutch two-run double off Matt Thornton in the seventh inning and Jeff Francoeur belted his first homer of the season, leading the Royals to their fourth win in five games.

"We were dead and (Giavotella) put up a huge at-bat against a guy who's not easy to hit and throws 97," Francoeur said. "So I thought that kind of livened us up and then we were able to relax and have some good swings."

Alcides Escobar went 3 for 3 with two walks for Kansas City, which broke it open with six runs in the ninth inning. Francoeur also had an RBI single and made a nice play in right field.

Humber allowed one run, struck out seven and walked three over 6 2-3 innings in his best start since his gem at Seattle on April 21. The 29-year-old right-hander was 0-2 with a 13.50 ERA in his previous three outings.

"Just more of a focus," he said. "Not that you're ever not trying, but more of a competitor, going out there and seeing the target, and going right at it, not worrying about the results. That's how you have fun as a ballplayer is going out there and letting it all hang out. Definitely a step in the right direction."

Kansas City won its second straight series despite losing Danny Duffy to elbow tightness after just three batters. The left-hander recorded two outs before catcher Humberto Quintero saw him shake out his arm at the end of a throw, prompting a mound visit from manager Ned Yost and a trainer.

"As soon as he said 'It's in my elbow,' I said 'That's it,'" Yost said. "We need to get that checked, see what's going on there, and go from there."

Duffy was headed back to Kansas City on Sunday night and is scheduled for an MRI exam on Monday. He also experienced tightness in his elbow last month.

Luis Mendoza (2-2) came in and pitched 5 2-3 innings, keeping the Royals in the game. He allowed one run and seven hits, struck out four and walked two.

"Just tried to get that confidence," he said. "I mean the last three appearances, I feel good and more confident, too."

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