Guillen, Royals hang on for one-run victory
Six-run lead nearly vanishes, but club claims series win
KANSAS CITY -- No one could have seen this whirlwind coming in the last three innings.
Jose Guillen pounding a three-run homer for a big Kansas City inning. Zack Greinke suddenly melting down in a big Chicago inning. And Guillen banging into the right-field wall as he made a skin-saving catch.
Yet, all of that unfolded before the wondering eyes of 18,335 fans who witnessed a slightly bizarre 7-6 victory for the Royals over the White Sox on Wednesday night.
Along about the sixth inning this had all the markings of a pitchers' duel between the rejuvenated Greinke and the streaking Jake Peavy.
Billy Butler jostled Peavy in the first inning with a whopper solo blast into the left-center-field waterfall, a 422-foot dunk shot. That abruptly ended Peavy's 21-inning scoreless streak.
"I had no clue about that," Butler said, chuckling.
But the White Sox got even, 1-1, in the fourth as Omar Vizquel tripled off Greinke and scored on Alex Rios' single. The fans settled in for a pitchfest but, before long, they were getting a slugfest.
Wilson Betemit and Alberto Callaspo opened the Royals' sixth with back-to-back doubles off Peavy and it turned into a two-run inning. Behind 3-1, Peavy left matters to the White Sox bullpen.
But the relief corps provided no relief -- three straight singles and a run preceded Guillen's homer, his 14th, over the left-field wall. Oddly, although he's been on a hitting tear including a 21-game streak, this was his first extra-base hit in 16 games.
As Guillen rounded third base, he was seen shouting at someone on the sidelines.
"Great at-bat," Guillen said later. "Somebody was bugging me there, it kind of ticked me off a little bit. Just told him to, you know, shush his mouth."
He didn't say if that someone was in the Chicago dugout or in the stands, but White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen shed some light on the matter.
"Some fans were all over Guillen in some previous at-bats, right behind our dugout," he said. "People were all over him for a couple of innings."
So, quite emphatically, the Royals had a 7-1 lead.
"I thought that was the way it was going to end," Butler said.
Not so fast. A.J. Pierzynski, a .419 pest against Greinke in his career, was leading off the White Sox eighth. Hmm, Greinke decided to throw a high fastball.
"I thought maybe since I had a six-run lead I could try something new, but it didn't work at all," Greinke said.
This was the 1,000th inning of Greinke's career and it would turn out to be quite memorable. Or, perhaps to Greinke, forgettable.
Pierzynski singled and so did Dayan Viciedo and so did Gordon Beckham and so did Juan Pierre. A run was in and the bases were loaded and up came Brent Lillibridge, batting for the esteemed veteran Vizquel.
"Probably the biggest mistake was I threw a meatball to Brent Lillibridge," Greinke said.
Lillibridge turned the first pitch into spaghetti, a three-run triple that shot into the left-center-field gap. Then Lillibridge jogged home on a groundout and, by golly, it was 7-6.
"It all happened so fast. He was really cruisin' and it happened in a matter of six or seven pitches," Royals manager Ned Yost said.
Greinke finished the inning and turned over hopes for his third straight win to closer Joakim Soria. Mark Kotsay, leading off the ninth, hit a soaring shot toward the right-field wall.
In dogged pursuit was Guillen, who occasioned a few boos when a looper fell between him and second baseman Chris Getz in the fifth inning. This time Guillen outran Kotsay's drive, snagged the ball and crashed into the wall.
All of which gave Guillen immense satisfaction.
"I just hope all those negative people who said I can't play outfield were watching, that's all I want to say," Guillen said. "That was a great motivation they gave me this year. That's a message to them -- all those people who say I cannot play out there. They know who they are and that's it. Simple as that. Great catch, that's it."
Yost has been insistent on using Guillen in right field lately and said he had no thought of making a late-inning change for defensive reasons.
"You watch him play and he has done nothing that tells me I need to defend for him. He's been very solid in right field," Yost said.
Even Ozzie Guillen, whose White Sox lost the series, two games to one, found good words for the Royals' Guillen.
"Obviously he's a little slow, but he can still play some outfield," Ozzie said. "The ball dropping early in the game, nobody can catch that ball. He can still play outfield."
As for Jose Guillen, he had one final statement.
"I still have it," he said with pride.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.