KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The inevitable became a certainty for the Chicago White Sox.
The White Sox' 7-2 loss to the Kansas City Royals on Thursday night officially eliminated them from the playoff hunt. Melky Cabrera had four hits, including a home run, and Billy Butler hit a three-run homer to lead the Royals to a victory over the White Sox, who have dropped five straight.
"It's a very disappointing, very inconsistent season," White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. "I have regrets. Regrets we didn't play better. I thought we had a better shot to win the division. Detroit earned it with the way they've played."
The White Sox have 13 games remaining.
"I've coached, played and managed and I have to tell you this is the toughest time of the year to play, when there's nothing to play for," Guillen said. "But, yes, there is something to play for, second place. Maybe it's like being the 'first loser' but I expect to finish right behind Detroit."
The Royals' five-game winning streak is their longest since they won five straight from Sept. 7-11, 2009.
Mark Buehrle (11-9), who has lost five of his last six starts, gave up a career high 15 hits, left in the seventh inning after being struck in the left biceps by an Alcides Escobar line drive. Buehrle said he does not anticipate he will miss his next start.
"It's fine," Buehrle said. "I could have stayed in but there's no reason when you're getting your fanny handed to you. It seemed like they were finding a lot of holes and then when I made a mistake they hit it hard. I'd make a pitch and they'd put it in play and find a hole. When I made a mistake they crushed it. They were finding holes and hitting it over the fence."
Buehrle has a career 22-12 career record against Kansas City.
"Its feast or famine, that's the way it is with him," Butler said. "Throughout his career, it's been more feast for him than us. It's good to get one from him. It took a shot off his arm to get him out of there. He's given us a lot of tough times in the past."
Cabrera's four-hit game matched a career high and his double in the sixth was his 40th as an outfielder — he has one as a DH. The Royals are the first team in major league history to have three outfielders with 40 or more doubles. Alex Gordon and Jeff Francoeur both have 45.
Cabrera homered in the first, while Butler scored on Salvador Perez's two-out single for the second run of the inning.
Left-hander Jeff Francis, who was 1-5 in his previous seven starts, allowed two runs, eight hits and two walks in six innings. Both runs off Francis (6-16) came on sacrifice flies — by Alex Ramirez in the third and Tyler Flowers in the sixth.
Every Royal had a hit except for Gordon, who walked twice. Perez's three hits matched his career high, while Yamaico Navarro drove in two runs with a single and a sacrifice fly.
The White Sox opened the sixth with singles by Paul Konerko, Alex Rios and A.J. Pierzynski, but Francis limited them to one run on Flowers' sacrifice fly.
Notes: Royals RHP Luke Hochevar is being shut down for the remainder of the season after throwing a career-high 198 innings, 90 more than last year when he missed 2½ months with an elbow injury. Hochevar finishes with an 11-11 record and 4.68 ERA. The Royals are 5-0 when Navarro is the starting third baseman. White Sox C Ramon Castro, who went on the DL on July 10 with a broken right hand, is rehabbing with the team in Kansas City. RHP Phillip Humber, who starts Friday for the White Sox, pitched last year for the Royals, going 2-1 in eight games, but only one start. RHP Felipe Paulino, who allowed two hits and two runs in seven innings in beating Seattle 4-2 on Saturday, will start for the Royals.