KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- After 18 pitchers, 14 innings, almost five and a half hours, two renditions of "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" and a 14-pitch plate appearance by Kevin Youkilis, the White Sox claimed a 9-8 victory against the Kansas City Royals on Friday night.
Make that Saturday morning. That's when Youkilis hit a sacrifice fly to center field against lefthander Everett Teaford (1-3), the ninth pitcher used by the Royals, to score Gordon Beckham from third. Youkilis fouled off a long series of pitches to collect a game-winning RBI for the fifth time since joining the White Sox. The game ended after 12:30 a.m.
"He's done it before and you expect it,'' manager Robin Ventura said of Youkilis, who has five game-winning RBI in 14 games with the White Sox.
Dylan Axelrod (1-2), one of nine Sox pitchers and eight rookie pitchers used, worked the last two innings for the win. Tentatively scheduled to start against the Boston Red Sox on Tuesday, Axelrod may miss that start with Philip Humber pitching instead, Ventura said.
Eighteen pitchers were used in all, tying a Sox record.
Beckham's soft liner down the right-field line fell for a double and scored pinch runner Jordan Danks from second base in the top of the 12th to give the White Sox an 8-7 lead. The Royals tied it in the bottom of the inning on Alex Gordon's RBI groundout that scored Jeff Francouer, who led off the inning with a double against Sox closer Addison Reed.
"They battled back, we kept battling back,'' Beckham said. "It was a pretty unbelievable game. It was definitely a good win.''
The Sox (48-38) left 15 runners on base, the Royals (37-48) left 13.
"Both teams leaving 15 something on, it's crazy,'' Ventura said. "But guys were battling, so it's a nice win.''
In a drawn-out marathon that lasted five hours, 23 minutes, the Sox forced extra innings on A.J. Pierzynski's ninth-inning single that scored Youkilis from third. Right fielder Francouer prevented it from being a two-run single by throwing out pinch runner Orlando Hudson at home on a close play to keep the score tied. Pierzynski had a potential RBI taken away in the 13th when he hit a ground-rule double with Orlando Hudson on first. Hudson likely would have scored had the ball not bounced over the right-field fence.
"There were so many times when I felt that game was over,'' Beckham said. "You see situations playing out that are good or not good for us. It just kept going.''
Alcides Escobar's two-run triple off Nate Jones in the eighth gave the Royals a 7-6 lead.
The Sox looked like they would make quick work of the Royals when they handed standout rookie Jose Quintana a 3-0 lead in the first inning on 400-plus-foot homers by Adam Dunn -- his 26th -- and Alex Rios (13th). But Quintana, who entered with a 2.04 ERA, was not on top of his game. He gave up eight hits, including homers to Mike Moustakas and Francouer on 1-2 counts, and lasted five innings. Quintana left with a 6-5 lead thanks to a two-out, three-run homer by Dayan Viciedo off lefty starter Bruce Chen in the fifth.
Dunn led off the inning with a single and Pierzynski kept it going with a two-out single.
Beckham's two-out double, against Royals lefhander Tim Collins, was his first hit of the night. Danks was running for Viciedo, who walked.
Axelrod thought he might be needed as the game progressed.
"It was kind of going that way around the seventh inning,'' Axelrod said. "We had used quite a few guys already. Just like weird thoughts started entering my mind, like it might happen. And then once Hector went in, I asked [pitching coach Don Cooper], 'should I go down there? You think you guys are going to need me?' And he said, 'yeah. Go get your spikes and head down after the next half(inning).' So I did that. It's just how the game went, so I went down there."
The game reminded Axelrod of his college days Cal-Irvine in 2007.
"I actually played in the longest College World Series game in history,'' Axelrod said. "It went 14 innings and 5 ½ hours and it was the same situation. I pitched four innings and finished the game and I was like the last guy with no one else left. It was similar to that."
The Sox opened an important 10-game road trip that continues with four in Boston and concludes next weekend with three in Detroit. Manager Robin Ventura, a proponent all season of infield practice before each series, worked his team out hours before Friday's game to open the second half.
"They might have been sitting on a couch for a while,'' Ventura said.
"Four days is a long time and if you are not prepared to feel that same urgency of effort and everything else, then you kind of start going in the wrong direction. It's more about getting out here and making sure the mindset is right and then just play.''