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Vargas squanders rare 5-run lead, Royals stumble and lose 7-6 to White Sox in series opener

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. - It takes a lot to rile up Royals starter Jason Vargas.

Throwing away a five-run lead in fewer than five innings did the trick.

Alexei Ramirez homered and drove in four runs, Dayan Viciedo and Paul Konerko also went deep and the Chicago White Sox slugged their way to a 7-6 victory over Kansas City on Monday night.

Vargas (4-2) allowed all of Chicago's runs in 4 2-3 innings, his shortest outing of the season.

"I don't get too mad about a lot of things," he said, "but given a five-run lead in the first inning and coughing it up halfway through the fifth inning, that's not good enough to get it done. I coughed it up for us tonight."

The Royals still had a chance to bail him out.

Matt Lindstrom, normally the White Sox closer, gave up a leadoff single to Nori Aoki in the ninth, then appeared to step awkwardly fielding a sacrifice bunt by Alcides Escobar that resulted in an error. Scott Downs entered and struck out Eric Hosmer, and then Jake Petricka picked off pinch-runner Jarrod Dyson at second base before getting Billy Butler on a groundout for his first save.

"The bullpen was great. They just continue to shine," said White Sox manager Robin Ventura, who was still awaiting word after the game on the severity of Lindstrom's right ankle injury.

"It didn't look good," he said.

The Royals also got banged up, losing All-Star catcher Salvador Perez to a jammed right hand.

"It was real sore, real swollen," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "It will probably be a couple of days. We'll just rest it a couple of days and try to get some of that inflammation out."

Zach Putnam (2-0) worked two shutout innings in relief of Scott Carroll for the win.

"We got behind big early, like a lot of games here in the past," Konerko said. "But guys started taking pride in their at-bats and we started to chip away."

Carroll, who grew up just north of Kauffman Stadium in Liberty, had a rude homecoming for the White Sox. He allowed the first five batters he faced to reach base, failed to get an out on his first 30 pitches and trailed 5-0 by the second inning.

"I was making good pitches," he said, "and they were just finding holes."

The White Sox got three runs back in the third, when Ramirez hit a 2-2 pitch for his sixth homer, matching his total from last year. They got another back in the fourth, when Viciedo sent a 1-2 pitch over the wall to make it 5-4.

Kansas City scraped out a run in the bottom half on Hosmer's RBI single, but the White Sox completed their comeback during a messy fifth inning that ended with Vargas on the bench.

It began with a single by Adam Eaton and another by Gordon Beckham, who was thrown out trying to reach second. Ramirez made it 6-5 with a groundout, but apparently thought he was safe as he was tagged sliding past the bag. Replays showed he missed the base by about 2 feet.

It turned out to be a moot point. Adam Dunn walked moments later, and Konerko followed with Chicago's third homer in three innings, a two-run shot that gave the White Sox the lead.

That was it for Vargas, who had been on a roll coming into the game. He won his previous two starts and held high-powered Colorado to two runs in a 3-2 victory his last time out.

"It's just a tough one," Butler said. "We had that big first and then we tacked on a run and Konerko hits a home run to put them ahead. You feel like at that point, that's not going to win the game, that there is going to be more scoring. Give their bullpen credit, they came in and did a great job."

NOTES: White Sox 1B Jose Abreu had an MRI that revealed no structural damage. Ventura characterized it as "good news." ... Royals LHP Bruce Chen (bulging disk) plans to throw a bullpen session Tuesday. The team still has not decided when he will begin a rehab assignment. ... White Sox LHP Chris Sale (left flexor muscle strain) also plans to throw a bullpen session Tuesday. Sale played catch Monday and said he is "definitely ready" to return. ... RHP Yordano Ventura starts for Kansas City on Tuesday night. RHP Andre Rienzo pitches for Chicago.

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