KANSAS CITY -- This isn't the way you want to come back from the All-Star Game break, not after your city put on a glittering show for the world. The perfect scenario would have been for Kansas City to return with a scintillating victory.
And certainly the Royals had their chances before finally losing after 14 innings and 5 hours, 23 minutes to the division-leading Chicago White Sox, 9-8, as 32,744 fans alternately cheered and held their breath on Friday night and into Saturday morning at Kauffman Stadium.
The Royals entered the break off three straight losses at Detroit and were looking for a second-half renewal. It didn't quite happen.
"We had our chances -- we had too many chances to win and didn't do it," Royals right fielder Jeff Francoeur said.
The end came with the Royals' ninth pitcher, a franchise record for one game, working the final two innings. With the bullpen emptied, starter Everett Teaford was pressed into service in the 13th. He survived a threat in that inning, but not in the 14th.
Gordon Beckham walked, Alejandro De Aza singled him to third and Kevin Youkilis, after a dramatic 14-pitch showdown with Teaford, hit a sacrifice fly to center and broke the 8-8 tie.
"The walk is the biggest killer and Youkilis, gosh, he fouled off a bunch of good pitches," Teaford said. "I felt like they were pretty good pitches, too, I wasn't just lobbing the ball in there. He did a heck of a job."
White Sox reliever Dylan Axelrod pitched a perfect bottom half and it was over.
"That was wonderful," said a smiling, but worn out White Sox manager Robin Ventura. "I'm glad we had an All-Star break."
This was a game that just wouldn't end quickly. The Royals went ahead, 7-6, on Alcides Escobar's two-run triple in the eighth inning.
But Royals closer Jonathan Broxton, master of many escapes this season, couldn't quite survive the ninth. Youkilis opened the inning with a single and Broxton walked both Adam Dunn and Paul Konerko, each on four pitches, to load the bases.
"I went out there and threw two pitches where I wanted to, then walked two dudes on eight pitches, and you can't do that and expect to have success," Broxton said. "I wasn't very good tonight."
Alex Rios flied out to shallow center field, but A.J. Pierzynski lined a single to right field, scoring Youkilis for a 7-7 tie. Pinch-runner Orlando Hudson also tried to score, but Francoeur's throw home got him, thanks to a diving tag by catcher Salvador Perez.
"It's the worst throw I made all year," Francoeur said, "and Salvy hooked me up. He made a great tag."
The White Sox went ahead, 8-7, in the 12th inning, when Royals lefty Tim Collins walked Dayan Viciedo, made a wild pitch and gave up an RBI double to Beckham. But the Royals came right back to tie it against closer Addison Reed. Francoeur doubled just out of left fielder Jordan Danks' reach, took third on Lorenzo Cain's single and scored as Alex Gordon tapped out.
"The offense did a great job of battling back. We had a couple situations where we could put it away, but we didn't," Yost said.
Royals fans roared when Billy Butler opened the Royals' ninth by beating out an infield tap for a single and reaching second on pitcher Leyson Septimo's wild throw. But pinch-runner Jarrod Dyson was picked off second and the chance fizzled.
A golden, bases-loaded opportunity was lost in the 11th.
The game began as sort of a reprise of the Home Run Derby. In the first five innings, there were five homers -- three of them by the White Sox, all off Royals starter Bruce Chen and good for six runs.
Dunn hit a two-run blast and Rios a solo shot in the first inning. The Royals retaliated against rookie lefty Jose Quintana, when Mike Moustakas homered to ignite a three-run second inning and Francoeur hit a solo blast in the two-run fourth.
When the fifth came around, Chen was piling up pitches and had two runners on base with two outs.
"I wanted to get the last out. I didn't feel like I was tired or anything and I feel bad because they ended up getting ahead. If I can contain that hitter, maybe it'd be a different story," Chen said.
But he didn't. Despite having 108 pitches at that point, Yost let him pitch to Viciedo, who promptly belted a three-run homer to left field for a 6-5 White Sox lead.
"That's absolutely my fault, I've got to take responsibility for that," Yost said. "Sometimes you manage with your heart more than you do your head where you're trying to get him through the fifth inning so he can quality for the win."
Ironically, the White Sox let Quintana stay in the game in the bottom of the fifth in an identical situation and got away with it.
"You drop it to the bottom of the fifth and they're in the exact same situation -- 107 pitches, runners at first and second, two outs and they get the ground ball," Yost said. "They made the same mistake, but it worked for them."
Just about everything worked out for the White Sox on a night when both clubs had 17 hits and wouldn't give in easily.
The White Sox, winners of 10 of their last 13 games, extended their lead over the fourth-place Royals to 10 1/2 games in the American League Central standings. It's the first time the Royals (37-48) have been more than 10 games under .500 since their 12-game losing streak in April.
The combined 18 pitchers were a franchise high, eclipsing the total of 16 used by the Royals and Cardinals on June 20, 2007 in St. Louis.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.