Royals left-hander Danny Duffy retired the first 16 batters he faced until Avisail Garcia singled sharply to right field. Two more hits loaded the bases for Melky Cabrera, who crushed a grand slam to left field, his third career slam. Todd Frazier followed with a homer and the White Sox had a 5-1 lead.
"It was the best 'worst' game I've ever pitched," Duffy said.
On leaving Duffy, who was nearing 70 pitches on his 75-80 pitch limit, in to face Cabrera, Royals manager Ned Yost said, "I thought Duffy for 5 1/3 was the best I've ever seen him pitch. Absolutely the best I've ever seen him pitch. You couldn't see that coming. Melky was going to be his last guy, but his stuff was still good. We were hoping to get him to roll over a pitch, hit into a double play and get out of it."
White Sox starter Miguel Gonzalez took a 5-2 lead into the seventh inning, but he left with a runner on second and one out. Whit Merrifield delivered a two-run single off White Sox reliever Matt Albers. Hosmer later blooped a two-run single off Zach Duke.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Grand slam: Cabrera stepped to the plate in the sixth inning with the bases loaded and one out. Having already popped out and ground out in his first two at-bats, one pitch was all Cabrera needed to see. His slam to left gave the White Sox a 4-1 lead. Duffy gave up three straight singles preceding the slam. More >
"He was pitching an outstanding game," Cabrera said through translator Billy Russo. "[The pitch] was just a mistake."
Oppo thump: Hosmer provided the first run of the game with a groundout in the first that scored Alcides Escobar. Hosmer then blasted his ninth homer of the season into the left-field bullpen. With Escobar on third and Merrifield on second as the potential tying and go-ahead runs in the seventh, Hosmer blooped a liner into short left field, scoring both runners and the Royals went up 6-5. More >
"Hoz hit the homer to go 5-2, and boom-boom-boom, we just kept pecking away," Yost said.
Breaking the bid: It took 5 1/3 innings and 61 pitches, but the White Sox finally broke up Duffy's bid for a perfect game. Filling in for Adam Eaton in right field, Garcia singled to right field with one out in the sixth. Duffy would give up five straight hits before he was replaced by Luke Hochevar.
"He had a perfect game going at that point," Ventura said. "[Garcia] had a good at-bat."
Prior to the hit, Duffy was using all of his pitches effectively, as he worked his way through the White Sox lineup. His final line of five earned runs in 5 1/3 wouldn't reflect how dominant he'd been through the first half of the game.
"He was throwing a lot of strikes," Ventura said. "He had some velocity to it, and he went a couple times through there pretty much mowing through us."
First big league hit: Royals 27-year-old rookie Brett Eibner, called up from Triple-A on Thursday, stroked his first Major League hit with a double down the left-field line in the seventh inning off Gonzalez. Eibner, a second-round pick in the 2010 Draft out of Arkansas, scored on a Merrifield's single. Eibner also had a sacrifice bunt in the seventh, though he missed the sign and wasn't supposed to bunt. Still, the sacrifice led to another run, making it 7-5. More >
"But I didn't want to miss it the other way," he said. "I'm glad it worked out and we ended up getting a run out of it, and a two-run cushion for Wade [Davis] which is all you need."
Added Yost, "Being new, he [messed] the sign up and thought Jirsch [third-base coach Mike Jirschele] put the sign on. Jirsch didn't put the sign on. I told him 'Don't worry about it son, nobody else on the team knows the signs either.'"
In the top of the seventh inning, Royals right-hander Peter Moylan attempted to pick off Jimmy Rollins at first base, and Rollins was called safe. The Royals challenged, but after a review, the call on the field was ruled as stands.
In the bottom of the seventh with the Royals rallying, Escobar attempted to steal third after a pitch got away from White Sox catcher Dioner Navarro. Escobar was initially ruled out, but after an umpire review, the call was overturned. That review proved important as Lorenzo Cain's strikeout later in the inning would've ended the seventh. Instead, it continued and Escobar crossed home plate as the tying run.
WHAT'S NEXT White Sox: Left-hander Carlos Rodon (2-4, 4.47 ERA) will take the mound for the middle game on Saturday at 1:15 p.m. CT. Rodon is 2-0 vs. AL Central teams this season, with an ERA of 2.63.
Royals: Right-hander Yordano Ventura (4-3, 4.81) will start the rematch in this series on Saturday at Kauffman Stadium. Ventura faced the White Sox last Sunday and gave up three runs over six innings in a loss.