KANSAS CITY, Mo. —It unfolded just as Alex Gordon figured it might Wednesday night when he scored the winning run on a wild pitch and lifted the Royals to a 2-1 victory over the Chicago White Sox in 11 innings at Kauffman Stadium.
The Royals had runners at first and third with two outs when the White Sox brought closer Sergio Santos in to face Billy Butler. Gordon turned to third-base coach Eddie Rodriguez and predicted what came next.
"I knew they were going to pitch Billy tough with splitters and sliders," Gordon said. "So I told Eddie that if I get anything close to a wild pitch that I'm going. Once I saw it get away from (A.J.) Pierzynski a little bit, I was off."
On cue, Santos bounced a 2-1 breaking ball that skittered away from Pierzynski, and Gordon charged home. Almost immediately, he wondered if he'd made a mistake.
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"Once I started," Gordon admitted, "I thought, 'Oh, crap.' But once I got a little bit closer, I realized (I could make it). The ball wasn't that far away, but I was just trying to be aggressive. It's 1-1 through 11 innings and nothing much was happening."
The run produced the expected mob scene at the plate.
"I was just hoping it got far enough away," said Mitch Maier, whose two-out single moved Gordon to third. "I saw it get away, but I was staying at first base to make them pitch to Billy. I looked at Gordo and saw him going."
The Royals won the game after Chicago reliever Chris Sale (2-1) retired the first two hitters. Gordon then drew a walk before Maier served a single into center. The White Sox brought in Santos for a right-on-right matchup against Butler.
"We win that game," Gordon said, "because (Bruce) Chen and our bullpen keep us in the game. It looks great at the end when the offense gets a run, but it's really the bullpen and Bruce pitching a great game. They really won the game for us."
Reliever Aaron Crow (3-2) got the victory by pitching two scoreless innings after Chen limited the White Sox to one run in eight innings. Joakim Soria pitched a scoreless ninth before Crow entered.
Gordon's game-winner came after the Royals missed a great chance to win the game in the 10th. Butler opened that inning by striking out on three pitches but still reaching safely when the third pitch got past Pierzynski for a wild pitch.
Sale then hit Jeff Francoeur with an 0-2 pitch.
Eric Hosmer's hopper back to the mound resulted only in a force at second, which put runners on first and third with one out for Brayan Pen~a, whose grounder to the mound produced only an out at first.
Mike Moustakas pulled a flare to right on a 1-2 pitch that fell just foul before popping out to second.
The comeback came after the Royals mustered little against Chicago starter John Danks, who showed no effects from the strained right oblique that kept him on the disabled list from June 25 until Wednesday.
"He pounded the strike zone and threw that cutter," Francoeur said. "It's not like (Mark) Buehrle's (cutter) where it's 85-86 (mph) and cuts. It's a hard one at 92.
"But Bruce did a great job of keeping it close for us. Even though they have a great pen, we were hoping we could see a different guy and have some luck — and we were able to."
That's what happened.
Matt Thornton inherited the 1-0 lead from Danks to start the eighth against the top of the Royals' order and ran into immediate trouble when Gordon led off with a single.
After Maier popped out to Thornton on an attempted sacrifice bunt, the White Sox summoned Jesse Crain for a right-on-right matchup against Butler, who lined a single into center that moved Gordon to third.
Francoeur followed with a drive to center that turned into a hustle double. Gordon scored the tying run, and Butler reached third. An intentional walk to Hosmer loaded the bases with one out for Pen~a, who struck out.
That prompted another pitching change as manager Ozzie Guillen brought in Sale for a left-on-left matchup against Moustakas, who grounded out to first. That was after a Moustakas foul struck Guillen in the face after caroming off the screen.
Moustakas' grounder sent the game into the ninth at 1-1, stuck Danks with a no-decision but also allowed Chen to gain a no-decision.
"I wanted to make sure I got the ball in," Chen said. "They're so powerful that if you leave the ball over the plate, they can hit a home run. The main thing for me was to make sure they didn't get (their arms) extended."
Chicago's only run came on Carlos Quentin's leadoff homer in the fifth, but it took a web-gem catch by Gordon in the sixth to keep it 1-0.
That was after Brent Morel grounded a one-out single into center and went to second on Juan Pierre's bunt single. Chen retired Alexei Ramirez on a fly to deep center before Paul Konerko hooked a drive to left.
Gordon lunged onto the dirt for a catch for the final out. It was a fair ball that likely, with the speedy Pierre running from first, would have scored two runs if Gordon fails to make the catch.
"If that ball falls," Francoeur said, "it's 3-0, and they probably take control of the game from there."