It marked the 11th time this season that the White Sox have hit four homers in a game. The first was by far the most damaging from Kansas City's perspective as the Ramirez grand slam in the fourth with two outs staked Mark Buehrle to a 4-0 lead. The White Sox went on to get two more in the inning and put a serious damper on Royals starter Brian Bannister's bid for a second consecutive victory.
Bannister went to a 2-2 count on Ramirez before the Rookie of the Year candidate handled a changeup for his third grand slam of the season, which tied a rookie record.
"He kind of got his bat out front and hit it one-handed," Bannister said. "He hit it perfect and that was the difference in the game."
In his previous start at Cleveland, Bannister had snapped a 13-game winless streak. He got through the opening three innings unscathed. But then Ramirez came through and the White Sox kept feeding off that momentum generated by their second baseman.
"It was a good at-bat for him because he really battled," Bannister said.
So did the previous hitter, A.J. Pierzynski, who worked his way to a walk with two strikes. Bannister was gone after throwing 93 pitches in five innings. The common denominator for the Royals in their seven-game winning streak was solid starting pitching, but the White Sox disrupted that formula while moving 2 1/2 games ahead of Minnesota in the American League Central race.
"That [fourth] inning just snowballed on Brian," Royals manager Trey Hillman said. "Hopefully, you can get a popup or a groundout in that situation with the bases loaded."
Trying to climb out of a big hole against Buehrle is no fun, but the Royals cut the 6-0 deficit in half when hot-hitting Mark Teahen went the other way for a three-run homer in the fourth. It was Teahen's first career homer against Buehrle in 43 at-bats.
But that was as close as the Royals would come.
Thome hit his homer in the fifth and Wise added a couple more in the seventh and ninth, respectively.
"This ballpark doesn't bother them as much as it does other teams, just because of how much power they have in their lineup," Hillman said.
Teahen is coming down the stretch with a hitting flourish. His average since Aug. 27 is .354 and he has had five extra-base hits over that span, including five homers. Teahen drew the start at third base on Friday.
"He has looked very natural over there," Hillman said. "I think he has done a very good job. To me, he seems to be a little bit more comfortable in the infield. That's my perception. But we still want to get Alex [Gordon] out there as well."
The Royals (69-85) will go back to work on Saturday in hopes of mounting another winning streak. Even with Friday's loss, they're still 12-6 in September with eight games remaining.
"We've had trouble shutting down runs in two-out situations," Hillman said. "Tonight was another case of that. But really, it was a pretty good hitting lineup and Bannister not being able to locate one pitch and get them to hit it at somebody."
The White Sox now have 11 grand slams for the season, which ties a club record set in 2006.
"Everybody knows they live by the home run," Bannister said "That's why they are such a tough lineup. You can be pitching really well and they can change it with one swing."