KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Paul Konerko returned to the lineup and homered in his second at-bat in an encouraging sign for the Chicago White Sox.
It just wasn't enough to get another victory for the AL Central leaders.
Chris Sale yielded a tiebreaking two-run double to Salvador Perez with two out in the seventh inning and the White Sox lost 4-2 to the Kansas City Royals on Friday night.
Konerko hit a solo drive in the fourth inning after being activated from the seven-day concussion disabled list. It was Konerko's first game since he was struck by a Jarrod Dyson elbow while covering first base on Aug. 7 against the Royals.
"I felt pretty good," Konerko said. "You don't expect the home run, of course, but I put some good swings on balls tonight. It felt good to get back out there. Even though I DH'd tonight I was still doing work to get ready, taking some swings in between (at-bats).
"When you take nine or ten days off it seems like a month, but I felt good."
Luis Mendoza pitched seven effective innings as Kansas City won for the third time in four games.
"He's got a good sinker and his curveball he can throw in there and it moves a lot," Konerko said.
Sale (14-4) allowed four runs and nine hits in 6 2-3 innings. The 6-foot-6 left-hander dropped to 11-2 with a 2.60 ERA in his last 15 starts.
Gordon Beckham hit a two-out RBI single in the fifth to give the White Sox a 2-1 lead, but Billy Butler belted a tying solo drive in the sixth for his 25th homer.
"He's swung the bat well against me," Sale said. "It's still my fault. I've got to go out and get them, no matter who it is. I have a job to do and I didn't do it."
Lorenzo Cain also had a solo homer in the second for Kansas City.
The Royals grabbed the lead for good in the seventh. Mike Moustakas and Alcides Escobar hit consecutive one-out singles to put runners on corners. Escobar then stole second when Alex Gordon struck out for the second out.
After Butler was walked intentionally, Perez fell behind in the count 1-2 to Sale before rifling a double off the fence in left.
"It was a good pitch by a tough pitcher," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "He just went down and got it."
Mendoza (7-8) allowed four hits, struck out six and walked one. Kelvin Herrera worked out of a jam in the eighth and Greg Holland finished for his fifth save in six opportunities.
The White Sox put runners on the corners with two down in the ninth, but Dayan Viciedo flied out to end the game.
Chicago got a scare in the first inning when a wicked Escobar one-hopper struck Sale in his pitching hand. That prompted a visit from Ventura and a trainer, but Sale remained in the game after a couple of warmup pitches.
Royals second baseman Chris Getz broke his left thumb in the fifth inning when he was hit by a pitch while bunting foul. He is scheduled to have surgery Saturday and is done for the season.
NOTES: In addition to activating Konerko, the White Sox recalled LHP Hector Santiago from Triple-A Charlotte and placed INF Orlando Hudson (bruised left foot) and LHP Leyson Septimo (left biceps inflammation) on the 15-day DL. ... Butler started at first base for only the 12th time as regular 1B Eric Hosmer was held out of the lineup against Sale. .LHP Bruce Chen, who starts Saturday, is 4-4 against the White Sox, but all the victories have come at U.S. Cellular Field. RHP Jake Peavy, who is 1-4 with a 5.93 ERA in five starts at Kauffman Stadium, will be the White Sox starter.