A weary and testy Ken Williams summed up the commotion surrounding the White Sox.
"Are we still in first place?" Williams asked sarcastically before Wednesday night's 6-4 victory over the Royals in 15 innings. "I assumed we had dropped out. I assumed that we were in last. I've been a little too busy to pay attention to everything."
The Sox tested Williams' patience when they blew a two-run lead in the ninth inning as Kansas City's David DeJesus hit a two-run single off closer Bobby Jenks to send the game into extra innings.
The anxiety grew deeper after Brian Anderson unsuccessfully tried to stretch a double into a triple in the 11th inning and Carlos Quentin was picked off first base for the final out of the 12th.
But Paul Konerko came through in the 15th when he ripped a two-run homer down the left-field line off Jimmy Gobble to give the Sox the victory.
It was Konerko's third walk-off homer since joining the Sox and his first since June 3, 2001, at Detroit. Konerko is 5-for-6 with four home runs off Gobble.
"He needed this one," manager Ozzie Guillen said of Konerko. "This was big for him and for the club.
"It was fun to watch, even when we failed. That was a lot of fun."
Most of the attention surrounded dazzling Sox second baseman Alexei Ramirez, who fielded four grounders bare-handed and threw quickly to retire batters.
Unfortunately for Ramirez and the Sox, he was part of an appeal play that cost the Sox a run that would have secured the victory in regulation.
Ramirez slid past catcher John Buck to score what appeared to be an insurance run in the fifth after Joe Crede's homer put the Sox ahead 3-2.
But home plate umpire Bill Miller didn't signal a call after Buck didn't catch the throw as Ramirez retreated to the Sox's dugout.
The Royals appealed the play and were successful in contending Ramirez's foot never tagged the plate as he was sliding into Buck's leg.
Crede, meanwhile, left after 12 innings because of a right wrist bruise. He was listed as day-to-day.
Jim Thome's two-run homer to straightaway center in the fourth off Luke Hochevar traveled 464 feet and ranked ninth on the list of longest home runs at U.S. Cellular Field.
Tensions mounted with two out in the top of the 13th when Sox reliever Octavio Dotel drilled Miguel Olivo on the left side. Olivo spiked his bat, chirped a few words at Dotel before order was restored.
Before the game, Williams declined to respond publicly to comments made Sunday by Guillen about making changes, or on the status of embattled hitting coach Greg Walker.
"It's over," Williams said three days after expressing he felt Guillen was throwing him under the bus. "Any more talk on it is just a continuation of something that was blown out of proportion."Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun