KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The Kansas City Royals rallied twice from multi-run deficits to beat the Chicago White Sox 7-6 at Kauffman Stadium on Sunday.
Trailing 6-4 entering the eighth, the Royals loaded the bases against Jesse Crain (2-2) as Mike Moustakas and David Lough singled and Elliot Johnson bunted, but reached safely on Crain's fielding error.
After Crain struck out George Kottaras and Jarrod Dyson, Alex Gordon walked to force in a run and cut the White Sox lead to 6-5. Shortstop Alexei Ramirez then fumbled Alcides Escobar's grounder, allowing Lough and Johnson to score with the tying and go-ahead runs.
"(Crain) is probably one of our better fielders, and being a former infielder, he's being aggressive, going after the bunt," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "It's one of those it ends up putting you in a tighter spot. But if he ends up making that play, you're looking better. And if you actually go over and get it and go to first, in hindsight, looking better. Tip your cap to them because they did it twice. They came back 4-0 and clawed their way back. And then they come back against a guy who hasn't given up a bunch of runs all year. So you credit them."
"They've had a habit of coming from behind," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "Today was more of the same. It was some great at-bats by Moose and Lough, and Elliot made a great bunt, then Esky crushing the ball and the shortstop couldn't make the play."
The runs were the first allowed by Crain since April 12, a span of 29 scoreless innings over 29 appearances.
"He's semi-human," Ventura said. "Eventually there's going to be a time when he gives up a run or two. You never like to see it happen, but the guy is human. It's just tough today. It's tough, but you can bounce back knowing you have Jesse. You know he's going to go back and start (a scoreless streak) again."
"That's baseball for you," Crain said. "If I make the bunt play I could have been out of it. Then their ball finds a way to sneak through, so you've got to have a lot of luck to have a streak like that. Guys make the plays behind you. Sometimes you've got to battle through things."
Luke Hochevar (1-1) struck out two in a scoreless eighth to get the victory and Greg Holland worked a perfect ninth, fanning two, to collect his 16th save in 18 chances.
"It's big anytime you can get a win," Hochevar said. "Especially coming from behind. That's always a huge pick me up."
"Mr. Zoombya (Dyson) had a big game, Holland was lights out, George hits a home run, Moose had a big hit to get the inning started and David kept it going," Johnson said. "I don't even know how to start talking about this game. Everybody put together a great effort. What a great team win."
Adam Dunn, who entered Sunday's game with just one hit in 15 career at-bats against James Shields, singled to drive in two runs in the first, then hit a two-run homer to center field to give the White Sox a 4-0 lead in the third.
Shields struggled with the strike zone in the first inning, missing with his first six pitches of the game and walking two to load the bases before Dunn ripped a two-run single off Eric Hosmer's glove, scoring Alejandro De Aza and Ramirez for a 2-0 Chicago lead.
Dunn's 20th homer of the year came with one out, bringing in Alex Rios, who was hit by a pitch to start the frame. It was the 426th home run of Dunn's career, moving him into a tie with Billy Williams for 46th place on the all-time list.
Shields left after five innings, allowing four runs on seven hits and three walks, while fanning four. It was the first time in 29 starts that Shields failed to go at least seven innings, dating to July 15 last year when he went just five while pitching for Tampa Bay against Boston.
"James didn't have it today," Yost said. "He just didn't have it. He battled through five and fought with his command pretty much the whole way. He couldn't command his pitches. With great starters like that you know they are still going to have two or three starts like that per year. We were just glad to be able to come back and overcome it."
The Royals got their first run in the third when Dyson singled and stole second with one out before Gordon brought him in with a ground ball single to center.
"(Gordon) benefitted from the day off (Saturday)," Yost said. "He was much crisper with his swing today."
Dylan Axelrod limited the Royals to one run on four hits over the first four innings, and he entered the fifth with a 4-1 advantage.
Kottaras and Dyson led off the fifth inning with home runs to right field. It was the first time this season Kansas City had hit back-to-back homers.
"Dyson surprises you a little bit," Yost said. "He's very strong for a little guy, but that energized us. He had a huge game. It was the first time all year we've gone back to back. And he had another base hit in his first at-bat. It was great to see him put some offense up."
"I was just trying to put some good at-bats up," Dyson said. "I put the barrel on it and it just took off. I don't try to hit home runs. I know my swing is good. My confidence is high. I already know how I got up here."
After Billy Butler's two-out ground-ball single to left later in the fifth inning brought in Escobar, who had doubled, Moustakas then singled to right, driving Axelrod from the mound.
Axelrod threw 4 2/3 innings, allowing 10 hits and four runs with two strikeouts for his fourth straight no-decision.
Nate Jones relieved Axelrod, working 1 1/3 scoreless innings, registering his ninth straight scoreless appearance.
"Give them credit," White Sox designated hitter Paul Konerko said. "It was a hot day and they could have folded, down 4-0, but they didn't. They came back. It's a tough pill to swallow, but give them credit."
Chicago's Gordon Beckham delivered a two-run double to break a 4-4 tie in the seventh inning. After Dayan Viciedo reached on an infield hit with one-out against Tim Collins (2-2), pinch-hitter Jeff Keppinger drew a walk against Kelvin Herrera before Beckham blasted a deep fly to the centerfield warning track, plating pinch-runner Jordan Danks and Keppinger for a 6-4 advantage.
"Kelvin's struggling right now," Yost said. "In that case, it was a mistake, my mistake, to bring him in. You're going to make mistakes as a manager. Not all of your decisions are going to be correct. It was a mistake in that situation, but the offense covered it up."
"We swung the bats the best we have in recent memory in Kansas City," Konerko said. "That's a positive. We came from Minnesota where we swung the bats pretty good, too. It's not where we want to see it yet, but we're climbing. We'd like to climb a little faster, but we're climbing."
NOTES: The White Sox have hit .241 (200-for-830) with 93 runs scored over their last 25 games (3.7 runs per game) while winning just eight of those games against 17 losses. They have scored fewer than five runs in 23 of their last 30 games. ... The Royals have been outscored 109-78 in the first three innings this year, but have outscored opponents 31-14 after the eighth inning. ... With the wins Friday and Saturday at Kansas City, Chicago won back-to-back road games for the first time since winning four consecutive road games May 14-17. ... Despite allowing 11 runs in their last five games, Kansas City's bullpen still ranks third in the majors with a 2.99 ERA (59 earned runs in 181 1/3 innings), behind Atlanta at 2.84 and Minnesota at 2.89.