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Rough start dooms Francis, K.C.

August 15, 2011

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— The first inning doomed Jeff Francis again on Sunday.

Francis yielded four runs in the first, including Brent Lillibridge’s three-run homer, and the Kansas City Royals lost, 6-2, to the Chicago White Sox.

Francis (4-13) has yielded 26 first-inning runs in 25 starts this year.

“As long as I’ve been pitching, that’s been somewhat of an issue,” he said. “You try everything you can. I think if I found a reason, I probably wouldn’t be doing it.”

The left-hander lasted just 32⁄3 innings and was charged with six runs and 10 hits. He struck out one and walked two as Kansas City lost for the sixth time in seven games.

“Starts where he’s gotten through the first inning clean, he generally has real good starts,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “He just struggled to make adjustments today because his stuff wasn’t quite as good.”

John Danks pitched six strong innings and Paul Konerko added three hits for the White Sox (60-60), who have won eight of 10 to reach .500. They haven’t had a winning record since they were 7-6 on April 15.

“Danks was incredibly sharp,” Yost said. “His stuff was electric right from the get-go.”

Danks was working on a no-hitter before Billy Butler reached on a bad-hop single with two out in the sixth. Butler’s roller down the first-base line hopped up and past Lillibridge. Official scorer Bob Rosenberg originally ruled the play an error, but the call was quickly changed to a hit.

“You can’t really give him an error on that. Nothing he can do on it,” Butler said. “That’s a terrible hop. There’s bad hops, and there’s terrible hops, that’s a terrible hop.”

Jeff Francoeur followed with a double down the left-field line and Mitch Maier had a two-run single to cut the White Sox lead to 6-2.

“When you’ve got that kind of stuff and it’s working, you’re going to have a tough day,” Butler said. “We battled and got two off him, but it felt like a lot when we got two off a guy like that.”

Danks (5-9) allowed four hits, struck out six and walked four, improving to 5-1 with a 2.29 ERA in his last nine starts.

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