KANSAS CITY, Mo. —For one game on one night, even the harshest critics in the Royals' nation had to concede the Yuniverse isn't always such a bad place.
Yuniesky Betancourt, that lightning rod for criticism, capped a terrific personal offensive performance Saturday night with a two-out RBI single in the 11th inning that lifted the Royals to a 6-5 victory over the Chicago White Sox in the first game of a doubleheader at Kauffman Stadium.
Betancourt's walk-off winner followed his grand slam in the seventh inning, which erased a 5-1 deficit. His five RBIs matched a career high. That doesn't even count a two-out double in the ninth inning that positioned the Royals for a victory.
"Yuni is hot as a firecracker right now," manager Ned Yost said. "I told Gibby (bench coach John Gibbons) when Willie (Bloomquist) was up there, if we can find some way to get Yuni up to the plate this inning, that something good would happen.
"I was a fortune-teller."
Betancourt now leads all active Royals with 13 homers and 60 RBIs. (Jose Guillen had 16 and 62 before heading off earlier this month in a trade to San Francisco.) Betancourt also has three grand slams.
Wilson Betemit started the winning rally by working a leadoff walk against side-arming rookie left-hander Chris Sale. Betemit moved to second on Alex Gordon's sacrifice; Gordon got the ball down while falling over backward.
Hey, it worked.
Chicago manager Ozzie Guillen summoned closer Bobby Jenks at that point. Jenks struck out Bloomquist before Mike Aviles reached on an infield single that moved Betemit to third.
Betancourt then punched his game-winning single up the middle.
Jesse Chavez, 2-1, got the victory by working two scoreless innings of relief. Chavez combined with Joakim Soria and Dusty Hughes in pitching 5 1/3 scoreless innings in relief of starter Phil Humber.
Sale, 0-1, was the loser.
The Royals spluttered through numerous defensive blunders but came up with a textbook play when needed most.
Paul Konerko pulled a one-out single past Betancourt in the 10th inning against Chavez. Pinch-runner Brent Lillibridge then tried and failed to score from first on Carlos Quentin's double into the right-center gap.
Bloomquist cut the ball off and made a strong relay throw to Aviles, who nailed Lillibridge at the plate thanks to a sweep tag by catcher Jason Kendall.
"Great relay from Bloomy to Aviles to Kendall," Yost said, "and Kendall made a great play."
Chavez ended the inning by striking out Mark Teahen.
The Royals trailed 5-1 before stirring to life in the seventh after Chicago starter Freddy Garcia issued a leadoff walk to Billy Butler.
Garcia seemed safe when he struck out Betemit and Gordon, but singles by Bloomquist and Aviles loaded the bases.
With Garcia having thrown 99 pitches, Guillen called on reliever Sergio Santos, who worked the count to 1-1 before Betancourt unloaded a 393-foot drive to left.
"(Garcia) has been pitching very well last couple outings," Guillen said, "and we blow the game for him. It's a very, very tough game. Freddy was cruising; it was like an uppercut in the last round. We couldn't recover from that."
Betancourt's slam took Humber off the hook for a loss in his first major-league start since Sept. 26, 2007 while pitching for the Mets against Washington.
This was Humber's opportunity to show he merits continued consideration in the Royals' plans for the rest of the season and perhaps beyond. The spot start resulted from Friday's rainout, which lead to Saturday's double-header.
Humber couldn't have scripted a better start. He retired the first nine batters before the Royals' defense began springing leaks. Mix in a few well-placed hits, and Humber departed his showcase opportunity down 5-1 in the sixth.
He allowed single (tainted) runs in the fourth and fifth innings before exiting in a three-run sixth that might have (maybe should have) ended prior to three costly two-out singles.
The Royals, meanwhile, did little against Garcia through six innings. Their only run came on Betemit's leadoff homer in the fifth, which cut Chicago's lead to 2-1.
Everything changed in the seventh.