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Royals drop 10th game in a row

CHICAGO (AP) -- Javier Vazquez watched the ball roll down the third-base line, his bid for a no-hitter riding on where it ended up. Third baseman Joe Crede had no play, either. He was too far back.

As they both looked on helplessly Wednesday, Doug Mientkiewicz's slow roller off a checked swing didn't stray into foul territory. Instead, the ball seemed to have a mind of its own and stayed fair. And after 6 1/3 innings, Vazquez's chance to pitch a no-hitter was over.

"I mean, what can you do?' Vazquez said. "It kind of stinks that was the first hit. ... That's part of the game."

Vazquez, Crede and the White Sox did get a victory. Vazquez pitched into the ninth, allowing just two hits, and Chicago beat Kansas City 4-0, the reeling Royals' 10th straight defeat.

"I was positioned way off the line and back with Mientkiewicz up there," Crede said. "I tried to dig a ditch to get the ball to go foul, but it didn't work. It's just something where any time you see a ball like that or a bunt down the line, you know it's going to stay fair because there's kind of a lip on the line right there."

The Royals, who had a 19-game losing streak late last season, managed one run and 11 hits in the three-game series against Chicago. Kansas City's 2-12 start is its second-slowest behind 1992, when the Royals lost 16 of their first 17, and Royals starting pitchers are 0-9 this season.

Mientkiewicz said the pitch was running in on him.

"A hit is a hit," he said. "It was a slider, and I'm definitely not going to apologize for a base hit."

After the hit, Vazquez got an ovation from the crowd of 26,327.

He got an even louder one in the ninth after he gave up a leadoff single to Esteban German and was replaced by Neal Cotts, who immediately gave up another single, to pinch-hitter John Buck. Bobby Jenks got two outs for his sixth save, sealing Chicago's ninth win in 10 games.

Vazquez (1-1), Chicago's No. 5 starter, struck out seven and walked one in eight-plus innings.

He'd been hit hard in his previous outing against Toronto, giving up seven runs and nine hits in six innings. In one inning alone, he surrendered seven hits, and White Sox manager Ozzie
Guillen said before Wednesday's game that Vazquez had been tipping his pitches.

"I just felt better overall. My body, my arm felt better," Vazquez said. "It was special hearing the home crowd and throwing my first good game here. The last time, I stunk a little bit."

Vazquez pitched a one-hitter in 1999 for Montreal against the Dodgers, and the only hit he surrendered that game was in the fourth inning to Mark Grudzielanek, now with the Royals.

Grudzielanek wasn't in the lineup Wednesday because of a sore Achilles tendon. Neither was David DeJesus, who left Tuesday night's game with tightness in his left hamstring, or Mike Sweeney
and Reggie Sanders, who were out of the starting lineup to rest. Sweeney pinch-hit in the ninth.

"Vazquez was really good. I don't want to take anything away from him, but I think he caught us at a pretty good time," Royals manager Buddy Bell said.

"Right now, because we haven't won in a while, guys are trying to swing for the fences," he said.

Scott Elarton (0-4) gave up four runs -- three earned -- five hits and five walked in 4 1/3 innings.

Royals leadoff batter Shane Costa had one of his team's hardest-hit balls when he sent center fielder Rob Mackowiak to the warning track in the first for his long drive. Vazquez retired his first 12 batters before walking Matt Stairs on 3-2 pitch leading off the fifth. Costa hit a solid liner in the sixth that was
grabbed by leaping shortstop Juan Uribe to end the inning.

Elarton walked three in the first inning and threw a run scoring wild pitch, and Uribe homered hit Scott Elarton's first pitch of the fifth inning for his first homer and a 2-0 lead.

Elarton plunked Jermaine Dye with a pitch later in the inning, forcing in a run, and was replaced by Luke Hudson. With A.J. Pierzynski at the plate, Chicago got a run on Paul Bako's passed
ball.

Game notes
Chicago's Jim Thome has scored in all 15 games this season. ... The Royals have been outscored 72-27 during their losing streak.