KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Rookie right-hander Erik Johnson put the White Sox in a big hole early.
The Kansas City Royals scored three runs in the first and another in the second off Johnson en route to a 7-5 victory Friday over the White Sox.
"The biggest thing is that I've got to compete better for my team," said Johnson, who was making his sixth career start. "We were right there. We put five runs on the board after I put them in a hole. You've got to give credit to our offense for never giving up."
Johnson retired only 14 of the 28 batters he faced, yielding seven runs on 10 hits, three walks and a hit batter to take the loss. The White Sox trailed 7-2 by the time Johnson was pulled with two outs in the fifth.
"I don't think it's confidence," White Sox catcher Tyler Flowers said of Johnson. "He always has that same demeanor out there. I definitely don't think he's lacking confidence. He was just missing some spots and got us behind in some counts where we had to throw strikes. It limited what pitches we could throw. His big thing is getting ahead so he can utilize all his pitches."
Alex Gordon drove in three runs and Jeremy Guthrie pitched effectively into the sixth inning. Gordon hit a bases-clearing double in the first inning and Guthrie allowed four runs on seven hits, four walks and a hit batter in 5 2-3 innings.
Lorenzo Cain drove in two runs with a two-out fifth inning single that put Kansas City ahead 7-2.
The White Sox chased Guthrie and narrowed the lead to two runs and missed opportunities to seize the lead.
"The offense is doing a good job, no matter what the situation is," Flowers said. "We were down early, but we did a good job of getting some innings started early and guys coming through with some big hits. Today (the Royals) came through in more big situations than we did. It seems like anybody who comes up is capable of starting a rally."
Jose Abreu and Conor Gillaspie hit sacrifice flies against Guthrie, and Adam Eaton hit a two-run single off reliever Kelvin Herrera in the sixth, but both runs were charged to Guthrie.
Flowers, who went 4-for-4 Thursday against Minnesota, had hits in his first three at-bats, but the streak ended in the eighth when Aoki dropped his fly ball to right.
The Royals, who had not made a challenge in spring training or in the first two games against the Tigers, asked the umpires to review a call in the seventh when Abreu was called safe at first on a throwing error by third baseman Mike Moustakas that pulled Eric Hosmer's foot off the bag. After a two minute, 49 second delay, the call was upheld.
Greg Holland pitched a 1-2-3 ninth for his first save after setting a Royals' record with 47 saves last season.
Notes: RHP Nate Jones was put on the disabled list by the White Sox with a muscle strain in his left hip. RHP Jake Petricka was recalled from Triple-A Charlotte. Jones had allowed four runs without retiring a batter in his first two appearances. Petricka pitched 2 1-3 scoreless innings after Johnson was pulled in the fifth. . LHP Bruce Chen, who is 7-2 against the White Sox since the start of the 2011 season, starts Saturday. LHP John Danks will make his first White Sox start. .The Royals improved to 23-23 in home openers. They are 4-1 against the White Sox in home openers.