CHICAGO — Whit Merrifield had a chance to hit for the cycle. He settled for a really fun day.
Merrifield hit a three-run homer and drove in a career-high five runs, and the Kansas City Royals pounded the Chicago White Sox 14-6 on Sunday.
Drew Butera had four of Kansas City’s 16 hits, helping the Royals climb back over .500 at 59-58. Jorge Bonifacio hit his 15th homer, and Lorenzo Cain had two hits and two RBIs.
Merrifield needed a double for the cycle when he came to the plate with the bases loaded in the eighth inning. But he popped out on a shallow foul ball to right fielder Avisail Garcia.
“With the game like it was, it (the cycle) was on my mind,” Merrifield said. “Hit a ball in the gap. I made a pretty poor swing, on a slider.”
Merrifield still finished with three hits. The 28-year-old second baseman is batting .296 with 14 homers and 56 RBIs.
“He’s worked himself into a very nice major league player,” manager Ned Yost said. “He has a little power and plays solid defense.”
Jason Vargas (14-6) worked six innings to match his career high for wins set in 2012 with Seattle. The left-hander allowed three runs and six hits, struck out seven and walked two.
The Royals won the last two games of the weekend set after dropping five in a row and 10 of 12. They remain in the mix for the second AL wild card.
“We were kind of spinning our wheels for while trying to gain some momentum,” Yost said. “It’s hard to get, but easy to stop.”
Tim Anderson hit a two-run homer for AL-worst Chicago, and Garcia added a two-run double.
White Sox left-hander Derek Holland (6-12) lasted just two-plus innings in his shortest start of the year. He was charged with seven runs and seven hits.
“I don’t even know where to begin,” Holland said. “Today was just, in my eyes, embarrassing.”
Kansas City grabbed control with four runs in the second and four more in the third. Bonifacio led off the third with a drive to left and Merrifield made it 8-0 when he went deep against Mike Pelfrey.
“It does seem to come in bunches at times,” White Sox manager Rick Renteria said.
Merrifield added a two-run triple in the sixth, making it 12-3.