CHICAGO | It took 15 innings Wednesday night, but it ended in a blur, another road loss for the Royals. Paul Konerko launched a two-run homer against Jimmy Gobble that lifted the Chicago White Sox to a 6-4 victory at U.S. Cellular Field.
It was Konerko’s fourth homer and fifth hit in six career at-bats against Gobble. This one, on the first pitch, followed a leadoff walk to Carlos Quentin and sent the Royals to their 10th straight road loss.
The road skid matches fourth longest in club history. The franchise record is 12 in a row on two occasions, most recently at the start of the 2006 season.
This one was a bitter pill because the Royals forced extra innings by scoring twice in the ninth inning against Chicago closer Bobby Jenks. But they failed to get a hit over the next six innings against Jenks, Boone Logan and Octavio Dotel.
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Gobble, 0-1, was the loser. Dotel, 3-2, got the victory after pitching 2 2/3 innings of scoreless relief — although the Royals got a runner to third in the 14th after John Buck worked a leadoff walk.
Chicago second baseman Alexei Ramirez saved a run by making a bare-handed pickup and throw on David DeJesus’ slow two-out grounder.
The 15-inning game was the longest for the Royals since playing 15 on June 10, 1998 in a 9-6 loss to Milwaukee at Kauffman Stadium. It matched the 12th longest in club history. They have also played two 18-inning games, three 17-inning games and six 16-inning games.
The Royals jumped to a 2-0 lead against Chicago starter John Danks on homers by Miguel Olivo in the second and Mark Teahen in the fourth. Jim Thome tied it with a 464-foot bomb in the fourth.
Thome’s homer was the White Sox’s first hit against Royals starter Luke Hochevar.
Chicago took the lead on Joe Crede’s leadoff homer in the fifth and added another run in the sixth. All four runs came against Hochevar, who avoided a fourth straight loss when the Royals rallied in the ninth.
Danks gave up only those two homers in his 5 2/3 innings before Guillen initiated a four-man bullpen relay that funneled a two-run lead to Jenks in the ninth.
That seemed safe. The Royals were 0-33 in games this season when trailing after eight innings.
So what happens? The Royals forced extra innings by scoring twice against Jenks.
Buck and pinch-hitter Alberto Callaspo led off with singles. After Joey Gathright replaced Callaspo as a pinch-runner, Esteban German put down a sacrifice bunt that moved the runners to second and third.
DeJesus followed with a two-run single into center before short-circuiting the inning by getting picked off first.
The Royals began the game by wasting a leadoff double by DeJesus, which extended his hitting streak to eight games. DeJesus got no farther as Danks retired the next three hitters.
Olivo opened the second inning with a 414-foot blast to left — no chance to squander that. It was his seventh homer of the year, which matched José Guillen for the club lead.
Teahen extended the lead to 2-0 with a two-out homer in the fourth. It, too, was a no-doubter, soaring 412 feet over center-field wall. It was his fifth homer of the year and fourth in 16 games after going 37 games without one.
The lead evaporated in the Chicago fourth after Hochevar issued a one-out walk to Konerko. Thome promptly redefined no-doubter with a 464-foot moonshot to center; the ninth-longest homer in The Cell’s 17-year history.
It was also Thome’s 38th homer in 147 career games against the Royals. The only player ever to accumulate more was Rafael Palmeiro, who had 41 in a 20-year career from 1986-2005.
The Chicago fourth ended when third baseman Alex Gordon made a circus catch on Nick Swisher’s foul pop while falling into the stands.
The White Sox took a 3-2 lead when Crede opened the fifth with a homer to left.
Then it got strange.
Ramirez walked and went to second on A.J. Pierzyenski’s one-out single. Quentin followed with a bouncer up the middle that could have been an inning-ending double play.
German, who is slated for regular duty at short, mishandled the ball and kicked it into short center. Ramirez appeared to score by beating German’s throw to the plate.
Royals manager Trey Hillman came out for a discussion with umpire Bill Miller. After Hillman returned to the dugout, Hochevar stepped off the mound, threw the ball to Buck, who tagged the plate.
Ramirez was out on appeal. He had missed the plate. The run came off the board. Hochevar kept the deficit at 3-2 by stranding runners at second and third when Konerko popped out to first.
The Royals knocked out Danks by loading the bases with two outs in the sixth. Nick Masset protected the lead by striking out Buck.
Hochevar also failed to survive the sixth despite retiring the first two hitters. Swisher poked a single to left and came around when Guillen misplayed Crede’s double past third.
It was scored an RBI double. It probably should have been a double and an error. Either way, the White Sox had another run. Hochevar exited after walking Ramirez.
Ron Mahay replaced Hochevar and got Orlando Cabrera to hit a routine grounder up the middle that second baseman Mark Grudzielanek easily reached — but German was late to cover second.
All runners were safe.
Mahay pitched around the misplay by retiring Pierzynski on a fly to center. Even so, the White Sox had an insurance run and a 4-2 lead.
Career homers against the Royals
1. Rafael Palmeiro, 41
2. Jim Thome, 38
3. Reggie Jackson, Manny Ramirez, Cal Ripken, Alex Rodriguez, Frank Thomas, 37