John Buck's bases-loaded single drove in Mitch Maier with the winning run in the 11th inning as the Royals overcame the Chicago White Sox, 8-7, on Tuesday night at Kauffman Stadium. It was the Royals' first walk-off victory of the year.
The Royals won their fourth straight game and retained their 1 1/2-game lead over Detroit in the American League Central. The White Sox dropped their fourth in a row.
Buck lashed a single to left field with two outs against reliever Lance Broadway. The Royals filled the bases as Maier walked, Willie Bloomquist singled and Alberto Callaspo was intentionally walked.
That strategy did not surprise Buck in the slightest. Not only was first base open after Bloomquist swiped second, but Callaspo leads the Royals with a .379 average, has hit in seven straight games and homered in the third inning.
"You walk next to the guy and you kind of burn," Buck said. "You feel how hot he is. It goes up about 10 degrees. Who wouldn't walk him?"
Buck lashed Broadway's first pitch for a single to left.
"I was just looking out middle-away part of the plate and it just happened to be middle-middle," Buck said.
Broadway's pitch was right down Broadway.
"That would be a great headline," Buck said. "I'm sure he's never heard that, just like I've never heard 'The Buck stops here.' You can get as cliché-ish as you want in your story."
This was a storybook win after the Royals had trailed, 5-1, against right-hander Gavin Floyd. The White Sox built that lead with Josh Fields and Jermaine Dye socking home runs off Royals starter Kyle Davies in the third inning.
But, in the fourth, Mike Jacobs pounded a three-run homer off Floyd to center field.
"Gosh, at the time it put us right back in the game and something I think we've pretty much shown this whole season is that never-die attitude," Jacobs said. "It was just such a great win."
It took some more doing, of course. The White Sox went up, 7-4, in the fifth inning when they disposed of Davies and pushed in two runs against Robinson Tejeda. But that was the end of the scoring for the Sox. Tejeda recovered to pitch a scoreless sixth; Ron Mahay did ditto in the seventh.
The Royals got two runs in the sixth and gained a 7-7 tie in the seventh on Billy Butler's RBI double against reliever Octavio Dotel. But with no outs and the bases loaded, they were unable to break ahead. On Callaspo's flyout, left fielder Carlos Quentin threw out Maier trying to score for a double play and Buck took strike three.
Then Jamey Wright reeled off three shutout innings for the Royals. Not without a scare in the ninth, however, when A.J. Pierzynski's fourth hit was a one-out triple.
Up came Alexei Ramirez.
"Ramirez is a little bit of a free swinger and I try to make my pitches and hopefully he'll offer at 'em and he did," Wright said. "We were real lucky."
Ramirez struck out and Scott Podsednik rolled out. Pierzynski was stranded at third.
Royals manager Trey Hillman opted not to use closer Joakim Soria in the late going because he was "a little stiff," so Juan Cruz worked the 11th and got the victory.
The Royals, playing through a light rain for the last half of the four-hour, 33-minute game, showed the 13,419 fans a tenacity which is becoming a club trademark.
"It's character and it's great to see. These guys have gotten a taste of it and they want more," Hillman said.
They have won four of five games from the White Sox, a division rival that dominated them, 12-6, last season.
"Every 'W' gives you a little more confidence, a little more swagger, I suppose," Buck said. "I think the personality of the team is just focusing on one game, one at-bat, one inning to keep going and not give up. That's kind of been it the last four games."
It's their longest streak of the season and all four wins were over division rivals.
"Any time you can win in your division, it's huge," Bloomquist said.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.