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Johnson's early struggles sink WSox vs. Royals

Published on NewsOK Modified: April 4, 2014 at 9:07 pm •  Published: April 4, 2014

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."

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