Aaron Crow's balk in ninth inning gives White Sox win

CHICAGO -- Adam Dunn showed signs of coming out of a season-long slump.

The struggling slugger hit a clutch two-run homer in the eighth inning before a crazy finish gave the Chicago White Sox a 5-4 win over the Kansas City Royals on Monday night.

"I hadn't hit one in so long I almost forgot," Dunn said. "Seriously. I know it hit it on the barrel and hit it straight up. But I'm just glad there was little wind that blew it out."

A.J. Pierzynski scored the winning run on a balk called on Aaron Crow in the ninth after the Royals had tied it on a homer first ruled a triple in the top of the inning.

With the Royals trailing 4-3 in the ninth, Eric Hosmer led off with what appeared to be a homer off White Sox closer Sergio Santos (3-3). Second base umpire Alfonso Marquez signaled the ball was in play as Hosmer advanced to third. Royals manager Ned Yost contested the call, and the umpire reviewed it. Moments after the review, Marquez signaled a homer.

Ramon Castro also hit a solo shot in the fifth for the White Sox, who have won five of its last six games.

Pierzynski led off the ninth with a pinch-hit single off Crow (2-2) in the ninth, then advanced to second on Gordon Beckham's sacrifice bunt. Pierzynski moved to third on a wild pitch, and after striking out Mark Teahen, Crow walked pinch-hitter Juan Pierre.

With Dunn up and facing a 1-0 count, Pierzynski noticed Crow's front shoulder move after he saw it, Pierzynski alerted the umpires and that prompted the players in the White Sox's dugout to jump up and plate Ed Rapuano then called a balk, giving Chicago the win.

"He just came up a little bit," Pierzynski said. "It wasn't much, but I've seen it called a lot of times. I just saw his front shoulder (move), and then he realized and stepped off and didn't think anyone saw it. No one reacted. It took a second for everyone to finally realize what he had done. It was a good way to win. Good comeback. I'm happy for Adam. It's got to feel great for him, and Mark pitched well. It's a big win."

Yost argued the call with Rapuano before heading back to the dugout.

"He was adamant that it was a balk," Yost said. "I've looked at the replay four or five times and I'm having a hard time seeing it. Eddie said that he turned his shoulder before he stepped off."

Royals right fielder Jeff Francoeur didn't appreciate Rapuano taking the game out of the players' hands.

"I love Ed Rapuano and he's one of my favorite (umpires), but you better be damn well sure if someone balks when you call a game on that," said Francoeur, who homered. "It's a shame because you've got an All-Star reliever up there, you've got Adam Dunn in the box, the crowd was going crazy. It's a great atmosphere, and you're going to call a balk to end the game. I just don't see it. I've always respected Ed, he's always done a great job, but to make that call in that situation, to me, that's not right. ...

"I understand if he drops the ball or blatantly moves, but he's calling him for flinching when he's stepping back off the mound. What the hell are you supposed to do? How are you supposed to step off? It's a disappointing call."

After the game, the umpires declined an interview request.

With Kansas City holding a 3-2 lead, Crow allowed a leadoff single to Brent Morel in the eighth and Dunn followed with his eighth homer of the season on a 1-1 pitch to right field to put the White Sox ahead 4-3.

Dunn, who came in hitting .165, received a loud ovation from the 31,077 fans in attendance -- prompting a curtain call. It was his first home run since June 12 against Oakland. He also passed Joe DiMaggio on the career list, putting him at 77 with 362 career homers.

Earlier in the game, Dunn singled to right in the fourth inning, prompting a Bronx cheer from the fans. Dunn, acknowledged the crowd by tipping his helmet to the fans. But Dunn says he understands where the fans are coming from.

"I promise you it's a way better feeling that way than the other way," he said. "I appreciate them, especially tonight, sticking with it. The thing about the fans, they boo and stuff because they want to see the team and personally do so well. That's how I've been looking at it. It makes it more special when they cheer like that."

Santos couldn't hold the lead after allowing the homer to Hosmer in the ninth. It was Santos' third blown save of the season.

Mark Buehrle allowed three runs on seven hits over seven innings for the White Sox, who began a stretch of 19 consecutive games against AL Central division rivals. Last season, the Chicago finished 32-40 against AL Central opponents and are 7-11 against the division this season.

Jeff Francis allowed two runs over on seven hits over six innings. He struck out four without allowing a walk for the Royals, who have lost six of seven.

Game notes
Royals LF Alex Gordon, who left Sunday's after getting hit by a pitch in the left knee, was available to pinch hit and was expected back in the lineup Wednesday.