KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Gregory Santos balked with the bases-loaded as the Kansas City Royals rallied from a six-run deficit to beat the Chicago White Sox 7-6 on Tuesday night.
It was the Royals first series win since Aug. 1-3 against the Mets, ironically a series that included the first balk-off win in franchise history. They entered the ninth trailing 6-5. Nick Loftin reached on an error and went to second on a single by Michael Massey. Maikel Garcia hit into a fielder’s choice before Bobby Witt Jr. singled in the tying run. With two outs, Santos intentionally walked MJ Melendez to load the bases, bringing up Edward Olivares.
Santos was called for a balk on his first pitch to Olivares.
“I don’t know what he was trying to do,” Olivares said. “Maybe he was trying to speed me up.”
The Royals had never won on a game-ending balk prior to this season, and now they’ve done it twice. The first was against the Mets on Aug. 1.
“Prior to this year I can only remember it happening two other times total (in MLB history),” Royals manager Matt Quatraro said. “It was definitely not in the same season.”
Jackson Kowar (1-0) earned the win, the first of his three-year career.
“You usually don’t think you’re going to back-door one like that,” he said. “As soon as Salvy (Salvador Perez) lined out (for the second out), I thought that was just bad luck. But it kind of flipped back for us.”
“I just wanted to get the sticks back up there. (Angel Zerpa, who pitched three scoreless innings of relief) did a really nice job of bridging the gap. That’s a really good lineup. We were running into balls all night. I knew if I held them right there we’d have a chance.”
Santos (2-2) took the loss.
“They kept battling and creeping up,” disappointed Chicago manager Pedro Grifol said. “We had a couple of opportunities to tack on runs, but we didn’t, and you saw the ending.”
Neither starter factored in the decision. Chicago starter Dylan Cease allowed five runs on eight hits in 5 1/3 innings. Brady Singer, in his first action since becoming a father for the first time on Sept. 1, allowed six runs on nine hits in five innings.
A night after not scoring until the eighth inning Monday, the White Sox scored five runs in the second inning. Andrew Vaughn beat out an infield hit leading off and Yoan Moncada followed with a 430-foot home run to right center. After Elvis Andrus and Oscar Colas hit one-out singles, Korey Lee hit his first career home run in the second. He came into the game with one hit in his first 25 MLB at-bats, and he broke an 0-for-23 slump.
Vaughn led off the third with a 437-foot home run to center, stretching the lead to 6-0.
The Royals were able to cash in a leadoff triple in the third. Garcia lined one to the wall in right center. He scored on a two-out single by Melendez. The Royals added a pair of runs in the fourth, the first one on a home run by Nelson Velazquez. It was Velazquez’ 11th home run of the season, but his eighth in 22 games with the Royals and second in as many games. Massey also hit 11th home run with two outs. It traveled 441 feet, the longest blast of Massey’s career.
“I knew I hit it well,” Massey said. “I still haven’t figured out how to not sprint out of the box on a homer.”
Melendez hit his 14th homer of the year in the fifth to cut the deficit to 6-4. Massey then drew the Royals within one run with an RBI groundout in the sixth.
Royals: OF Kyle Isbel, who was held out of Monday’s game with hamstring tightness was available, according to KC manager Matt Quatraro, though he was not in the starting lineup.