CHICAGO – Kansas City has eight games left and almost no margin for error.
Alex Gordon homered, Whit Merrifield drove in three runs and Danny Duffy pitched into the seventh inning to lead the Royals over the White Sox, 8-2, on Saturday night, keeping Kansas City's slim playoff hopes alive.
Salvador Perez went 2 for 4 with a pair of run-scoring doubles.
Kansas City is 4 1/2 games behind Minnesota for the second American League wild card, tied with the Los Angeles Angels and Texas.
"We just got to win," manager Ned Yost said. "We just have to keep playing good, find ways to win ballgames and play it out to the end."
Minnesota has three games at AL power Cleveland in a series that starts Tuesday.
"Crazier things have happened in this game," Duffy said. "We just want to continue to try and finish strong and worry about next year when next year comes."
Duffy (9-9) allowed two runs and eight hits in six-plus innings for his first win since Aug. 22.
Jose Abreu went 1 for 4 and drove in two runs to reach the 100-RBI mark for the fourth straight season. The Sox slugger is just the third major leaguer to begin his career with four straight seasons of at least 25 homers and 100 RBIs after Joe DiMaggio and Albert Pujols.
"Honestly, I don't feel as happy as I want to because we lost," Abreu said through a translator. "But personally, it feels good to get this goal accomplished."
Tim Anderson went 1 for 4 to extend his career-best hitting streak to 14 games.
Dylan Covey (0-7) allowed three runs and five hits in six innings. He is seeking his first major league win after 11 starts and six relief appearances.
"I felt like I was maybe pitching from behind in counts too much," Covey said, "but there were a lot of positive things, too, to carry over into my next start."
The Sox took the lead on Abreu's RBI single in the first.
Covey allowed just one hit over the first three innings and retired the first two batters in the fourth. But then Eric Hosmer walked, Salvador Perez followed with an RBI double and Mike Moustakas singled to drive in Perez for a 2-1 Kansas City lead.
Gordon homered in the fifth. Merrifield's three-run double in the seventh gave the Royals a 6-1 advantage.
Abreu drove in a run with a groundout in the seventh. Kansas City added a pair in the eighth on RBI doubles by Perez and Brandon Moss.
DiMaggio is in the Hall of Fame and Pujols is on track for first-ballot election. Abreu felt honored to join a select group.
"I know a few things about DiMaggio," Abreu said through a translator. "I went to the video room and they were showing some videos about DiMaggio. Every time that your name is around two of the greatest people in baseball, you have to feel good because it means that you have done something special."
Royals: Perez returned after leaving Friday's game with a sore neck after being struck by a foul tip. He was taken out in the middle of the eighth with the big lead.
Sox: Abreu was the DH because he's dealing with a sore left shin. ... There's still no diagnosis for lefty Carlos Rodon beyond shoulder inflammation, but the team is optimistic he'll be able to go through a normal offseason program and be ready for spring training.
Sox right-handed pitcher Lucas Giolito (2-3, 2.58 ERA) faces righty Ian Kennedy (4-12, 5.39) in the series finale on Sunday. Giolito is 1-2 with a 2.49 ERA in his past four starts. Kennedy rejoined the team on Saturday after being away for the birth of his fifth child.