By Jeffrey Flanagan and Scott Chasen
MLB.com |@FlannyMLB |
KANSAS CITY -- Rookie Brett Eibner lashed a single to right off White Sox reliever Tommy Kahnle, scoring Drew Butera to cap an incredible seven-run rally in the ninth and give the Royals an 8-7 walk-off win on Saturday afternoon at Kauffman Stadium.
Eibner made his Major League debut on Friday in a come-from-behind win. Kansas City knocked Chicago from its perch atop the American League Central as both now sit a half-game back of first-place Cleveland. The White Sox had held the top spot since April 22 and their largest lead was five games.
"It's an incredible feeling," Eibner said after collecting his first Major League RBI and walk-off win. "I didn't think I could beat yesterday. I don't think I could draw it up any better on Day 2."
Chicago's bullpen surrendered a 5-1 lead on Friday in a 7-5 loss.
"It was one of the craziest regular-season games I've played in," Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer said.
This time White Sox manager Robin Ventura turned to closer David Robertson to start the ninth with a 7-1 lead. But Robertson gave up six runs. Whit Merrifield had a two-run single in the inning, and Butera tied the game with an RBI double.
"It was a terrible performance on my part," Robertson said.
Left-hander Carlos Rodon wobbled at times, but he got through five innings while giving up six hits and one run.
Right-hander Yordano Ventura retired the first five hitters he faced, then gave up three straight singles to plate a run before Saladino smacked an 0-2 curveball into the left-field bullpen. Ventura gave up six earned runs over seven innings.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED A repeat performance: In Friday's series opener, the White Sox took the lead in the sixth inning on a grand slam that followed three-straight singles. On Saturday, with two out in the second, it was more of the same. Three straight two-out singles put the Sox on top 1-0, and the lead ballooned to four when Saladino smashed his homer.
"You've got to get on the heater, get on the fastball, and [with] runners in scoring position cash guys in," Brett Lawrie said. "Fortunately enough, today we were able to do that and swing the bats well against their guys today."
Hot Hoz: Royals first baseman Hosmer, who drove in four runs in Friday's win, was back on the RBI train on Saturday. Merrifield led off the third inning with a double into the right-field corner. Hosmer, with one out, served a ground-ball single into left field, scoring Merrifield. Hosmer also had an RBI double in the dramatic ninth, and scored the tying run.
Extra padding: In the fourth inning, Garcia extended the White Sox lead by belting the second homer of the day off Ventura. The two-run blast was the fourth home run of the series. All four were hit to left field.
"It looked good offensively. I thought we put some good at-bats on them," Robin Ventura said. "You score enough runs to win. It was definitely there to take."
Whit's a hit: Merrifield had his fifth straight multi-hit game. After he doubled in the third, he delivered a two-run single in the frantic rally in the ninth. He also stole his first Major League base in the third inning.
SALVY SLATED FOR MRI
Royals manager Ned Yost said the initial report was that Perez suffered a left quad contusion, but that Perez would have an MRI immediately. Yost did not think it was a season-ending injury, though certainly a trip to the disabled list was possible.
"You're always nervous, especially when you lose two All-Stars, you don't want to lose a third," Yost said. "But we'll just see what the MRI shows.
"The good thing about it, at least as far as we could tell, there was no structural damage to his knee. He sustained a pretty good quad contusion."
WHAT'S NEXT White Sox: Left-hander Chris Sale (9-1, 2.26 ERA) will start the finale of this three-game road set on Sunday at 1:15 p.m. CT. Sale is 2-1 against the AL Central this year. The loss came in his last outing, as he gave up six earned runs in 3 1/3 innings against the Indians.
Royals: Right-hander Edinson Volquez (5-4, 3.67) will get the ball for the series finale on Sunday at Kauffman Stadium. Volquez went 6 2/3 innings and gave up two earned runs on Tuesday in a 7-4 win over the Twins.