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Royals face White Sox clinging to wild-card hopes

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Time is running out on the Kansas City Royals.

The Royals lost the opener of a three-game series against the Chicago White Sox on Monday, falling 11-3 in a game they could ill afford to lose if they are to make it back to the postseason.

Kansas City will send Sam Gaviglio to the mound Tuesday afternoon against Chicago's Dylan Covey in a battle of rookie right-handers.

Gaviglio will be making his second Royals start after being picked up off the waiver wire on Sept. 1 from the Seattle Mariners.

Gaviglio (3-5, 4.41 ERA overall) got a no-decision Thursday in his first Kansas City start, allowing one run on four hits and three walks over five innings as the Royals lost 4-2 to the Minnesota Twins. That was his first big league start since July 18 at Houston.

He has pitched at least five innings and given up one or no runs in five of his dozen major league starts. He went 3-6 with a 3.88 ERA in 13 minor league starts this season with Triple-A Tacoma.

Gaviglio made one appearance against the White Sox while with Seattle, and that was his big league start on May 18. He tossed five scoreless innings in a no-decision.

With the Royals' regular season down to 19 games, and 11 of those on the road, they face an uphill climb to claim a wild-card berth. They trail the Minnesota Twins, who were idle Monday, by three games for the second spot.

"Every game is important," said Jason Hammel, the Royals' starter and losing pitcher Monday. "It's just one of those games we've got to forget. We've got a quick turnaround tomorrow. We're still very much in this thing. It's just an off night."

Covey (0-4, 8.08 ERA) is looking for his first major league victory. He will be making his ninth start of the season but his first since May 23 at Arizona, when he gave up four runs in 2 1/3 innings.

Covey went on the disabled list with a pulled left oblique after that outing and did not return until Aug. 15. He has made six relief appearances with no-decisions since being reinstated.

Covey worked 4 2/3 innings out of the bullpen on Aug. 21 against the Minnesota Twins, giving up three runs on four hits, including two home runs, in 4 2/3 innings.

Covey is 0-4 with an 8.12 ERA as a starter, 0-0 with a 6.94 ERA in six relief appearances.

"Hopefully we get a nice outing out of him like we did out of (Carson) Fulmer," White Sox manager Rick Renteria said. "Like we have talked about, a couple of these guys will be falling into those slots, and we'll take advantage and see how they do."

Fulmer earned his first career win as a starter Sunday, yielding one run on three hits and striking out nine over six innings against the San Francisco Giants.

The White Sox, who have won three straight, are using September as an audition for some of their young pitchers as they plot for 2018.

"I think they're truly thinking about the opportunity they're getting to continue to pitch at the major league level, to continue to develop who they are as pitchers, to continue to get a feel for what it is to pitch against big-league hitters," Renteria said. "Put themselves in a position where they can take this month of September and the experience they're going to gain, and take it into next season.

"I think that they're more concerned that they show everybody that they're capable of being here and doing the job."

Covey has faced the Royals twice this season.

On April 25, he got a no-decision, giving up two runs on three hits, three walks and a hit batter in four innings. He struck out four. On May 1, he yielded six runs on nine hits, including two home runs, and two walks in 6 2/3 innings.

Jorge Bonifacio and Eric Hosmer have homered off Covey, while Salvador Perez is 2-for-4 with three RBIs.