CHICAGO – Alex Rios stepped to the plate with the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the first inning.
Having notched four multi-hit performances in six road games, this was his chance to show the home crowd he had turned the corner in what has been a miserable season.
Rios hit a lazy fly to right field to strand all three runners, a microcosm of Chicago's ineptitude at U.S. Cellular Field this year.
The embattled center fielder came to the plate in the same situation two innings later, producing the same result.
"Same old movie," White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. "We made him work a little bit today, better than the last time we faced him. But to still go out of the game with one hit ... I'm not going to take away any credit. This kid went out and pitched well against us."
Chen (7-5) pitched six innings of one-hit ball to improve to 2-0 against the White Sox in three starts this season. He has given up just two runs on nine hits over 20 innings (0.90 ERA). The lefty has a 5.03 ERA in 13 starts against the rest of the major leagues.
"Bruce Chen has pitched good against us. He's done really good against us the last few times out," said A.J. Pierzynski. "We had chances. We had bases loaded two times early in the game, with a chance to score some runs and push some pressure on them. Unfortunately, it just didn't work out."
Pierzynski was hit by a pitch on the left wrist in the third inning and was removed after the fourth. X-rays were negative and he's considered day-to-day.
"It's sore," he said. "It could have been worse. Luckily, there's no fracture or anything in there. It's sore and we will see how it feels tomorrow."
Rios was responsible for seven of the 10 runners left on base. After going 9 for 22 over a five-day span, Rios is hitless in his last nine at-bats.
"He couldn't get it done," Guillen said. "For some reason, this guy has been swinging the bat pretty good on the road — very good. Even the outs he was making were pretty hard. He came home and can't get it going. I don't know (what the reason is). Alex was swinging the bat good the last week."
The White Sox fell to 24-33 at home, the worst mark among AL teams.
Alex Gordon singled, doubled, walked twice, scored a run, stole a base and reached on catcher's interference for the Royals, who snapped a four-game losing streak.
Rookie Zach Stewart (1-2) pitched well in his White Sox home debut. He held the Royals to two runs and seven hits in 6 1-3 innings despite allowing the first four batters of the game to reach base.
"After (the first inning) he was very effective, throwing strikes," Guillen said. "Another good outing for this kid."
Juan Pierre had an RBI single, driving in Chicago's only run in the ninth, and walked twice. Paul Konerko singled, extending his hitting streak to nine games, and walked twice. The White Sox had just three hits in the game but still managed to strand 10 runners.
The White Sox have lost seven straight at U.S. Cellular Field and 13 of their last 17. Chicago fell five games behind Detroit in the AL Central.
Rios ended both the first and third by flying out with the bases loaded. Rios, who entered the game hitting .170 in 94 at-bats with runners in scoring position, was loudly booed after each plate appearance.
NOTES: White Sox OF Alejandro De Aza took groundballs at first base during pregame drills. Manager Ozzie Guillen said that if Adam Dunn continues to struggle, De Aza gives him another first base option against right-handed pitching. ... Jake Peavy will start for Chicago on Saturday against Kansas City's Luke Hochevar. Hochevar is 4-0 over his last eight starts, with the Royals going 7-1 in those games. Peavy has dropped four of his last five decisions. ... White Sox C A.J. Pierzynski had to leave the game after being hit on the left wrist by a pitch in the third. X-rays on the injury were negative and he's listed as day-to-day. ... Chicago's Carlos Quentin was hit by a pitch in the first inning. It was the 23rd hit by pitch for Quentin this season, tying a White Sox record set by Minnie Minoso in 1956.