Doug Mientkiewicz, Angel Berroa and John Buck had two RBI apiece and Kansas City made up a six-run deficit in an 11-7 win over the White Sox on Friday night.
Down 6-0 against Jon Garland, Kansas City rebounded to stun their shivering fans who've suffered through 100-loss seasons three of the last four years and drop Chicago to 1-3 in defense of its world championship.
"With the pitching staff we have, when you score that many runs you expect to win," White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. "But this is a different ballclub over there. They have some veteran guys who know how to play the game. They're going to attack you. They're not going to quit."
Mark Grudzielanek, an important offseason pickup, was also key to the Royals' biggest comeback since Sept. 1, 2001. Grudzielanek had two hits and scored three runs.
"To come back against a guy like that, it was quite a feat," said Mike Sweeney, who got his first hit of the year and scored twice.
"Last year, the feeling in the dugout might have been, 'Oh, no, we're down 5-0 in the first.' A lot of guys might have packed it in. But we've got a good group of veteran guys. Our manager, Buddy Bell, demands that we never give up and it showed tonight."
The first five Chicago batters scored against Jeremy Affeldt. But Garland (0-1), who was coming off an 18-win season and was 11-4 lifetime against the Royals, gave up 10 hits and nine runs in 5 1/3 innings while the White Sox saw the end of an 11-game road winning streak.
"They played good baseball. They made the plays," Guillen said. "It was a real tough day for the outfielders."
Trailing 6-0 after three, the Royals scored five in the fourth and two in the fifth and then took their first lead of the year when Buck's RBI double off Garland made it 8-7 in the sixth.
David DeJesus then doubled off Matt Thornton to make it 9-7 and Mark Teahen added an RBI single in the seventh.
Reliever Mike Wood (1-0) allowed four hits and one run in two innings to get the win.
"We'll take it," Buck said. "Guys kept their heads in there. To come back like that shows a little bit of character and what this ballclub's made of."
Pablo Ozuna led off the game with a base hit off Affeldt, then Tadahito Iguchi and Jim Thome walked.
Paul Konerko drove in two runs with a double, Joe Crede and Juan Uribe hit RBI singles and Rob Mackowiak had an RBI grounder. Chris Widger made it 6-0 with a sacrifice fly in the third before the Royals started their comeback.
Grudzielanek, snapping an 0-for-9 streak, singled leading off the fourth. Sweeney walked, then Reggie Sanders had an RBI single and Emil Brown hit a high drive which the strong, swirling wind pushed away from Ozuna in left field at the last minute for an RBI double.
With two out, Berroa had a two-run double and then scored on the first of Buck's two doubles, making it 6-5.
"That wind was pretty bad," Ozuna said. "But I don't want to make excuses. I'm supposed to catch that ball. It just happened."
Widger's RBI groundout off Mike Wood put the White Sox on top 7-5 in the fifth before the Royals tied it at seven in the bottom half on Garland's wild pitch and a sacrifice fly by Mientkiewicz.
Grudzielanek tripled leading off the eighth and scored his third run on Mientkiewicz's fielder's choice.
Affeldt, making his first start since May 18, 2004, wound up going four innings and giving up six runs on seven hits, with two walks and two strikeouts.
The White Sox are out of first place in the AL Central for the first time since the end of the 2004 season. ... The White Sox were given a tour of the Negro Leagues Museum by Buck O'Neil. ... Royals CF David DeJesus left the game in the seventh with tightness in his left hamstring.