KANSAS CITY, Mo. — It took the Kansas City Royals 27 games, but they finally have a winning streak.
Cheslor Cuthbert homered twice and drove in four runs as the Royals won back-to-back games for the first time this season, defeating the Chicago White Sox 5-4 Sunday.
Whit Merrifield singled home Alcides Escobar, who was hit by a pitch to leadoff the inning, with the go-ahead run in the eighth off Bruce Rondon (1-1). Escobar left in the ninth with a left hand contusion.
"It's been a struggle for us so far," Merrifield said. "That was a big one. Hopefully that can get us over the hump and we can have more of those."
Cuthbert, who had not homered since August 20 — a span on 109 at-bats — drove a Hector Santiago pitch into the White Sox bullpen in the fourth to snap an 0-for-14.
"Finally," Cuthbert said. "It's really fun to have a game like that and for us to get a win."
He homered in the fifth with Salvador Perez and Jorge Soler aboard off Chris Volstad. It was Cuthbert's second career multi-homer game. The other was June 11, 2016.
"I feel like it was a pretty good pitch, down and in," Volstad said. "He just dropped the barrel of the bat on it and he hit it pretty high. I didn't know if it was going to get out or not. It barely did."
Royals starter Ian Kennedy left after five innings with a 4-2 lead, but reliever Brian Flynn could not hold it.
"It's been frustrating overall all, just trying to find those back-to-back wins," Kennedy said.
Daniel Palka doubled home two White Sox runs in the fourth, giving him five RBIs in two games.
Santiago was making his first start of the season after seven relief appearances and was removed after 4 2/3 innings and 86 pitches.
"I felt great in that fifth inning," he said. "I think they were kind of thinking 85. It's baby steps when you're coming out of the pen and trying to get to stretched out to 100 pitches. They're always cautious about that big jump from 50 to 100 in one outing."
Leury Garcia's two-out triple in the sixth scored Trayce Thompson, cutting the Royals lead to 4-3. Nicky Delmonico's run-producing double in the seventh tied the score.
The Royals loaded the bases with nobody out in the seventh, but failed to score. Kansas City is 4-for-25, .160, with the bases loaded this season.
"That's how it is been going for us," Merrifield said. "It really couldn't have gotten much worse for us as far as runners on third and less than two out, all that kind of stuff."
Brandon McCarthy (2-0) picked up the victory, while Blaine Boyer logged his fifth career save and his first since May 29, 2016 while with Milwaukee.
"Somehow from spring to the beginning of the season, I just completely got out of whack," said Boyer, who has a 15.00 ERA in nine innings. "It's frustrating after 19 years in the game and you feel like you fall off a bicycle and you get back on and don't know how to ride it again. I'm glad to be back to my normal self."
NOT OVER YET
The quarrel between Royals catcher Perez and White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson may not be finished. The two exchanged words Saturday after Perez thought Anderson celebrated too much after a leadoff home run. "I play this game with my heart and I put a lot of work into it and I'm not going to change because of that," Anderson said. "It's not the first incident and it's probably not going to be the last." The two teams meet 12 more times this season with the next nine in Chicago. "(Matt) Davidson, he has a pretty good season here, nobody to hit him, you know," Perez said. "He hits the ball, homer and runs hard. Why you gotta hit him? No. But if you're gonna do that (bleep) to us, we're gonna hit you. We will tell the pitcher, 'hit him.'" Davidson has seven home runs against the Royals this season.
White Sox manager Rick Renteria returned after missing the three games Friday and Saturday to attend his mother's funeral services in Austin, Texas. "Our family is very grateful to everybody," he said. "We had a lot of outpouring from the game. My family's very thankful for that. We think she's in a much better place now. We see her laughing in our mind's eye, now. I'm sure she'll be up there cheering the White Sox on with my dad and probably arguing (with the umpires) out there with me every now and then." He said he received game reports updates while away. "Kind of kept up with everything," Renteria said.
White Sox: After an off-day Monday, RHP James Shields will start Tuesday at St. Louis. He is 0-3 with a 9.00 ERA in his last three starts.
Royals: RHP Jason Hammel will start Monday at Boston in the opener of a three-game series.