The Royals built a large lead, then had to hold on to the very end to pick up a 9-8 win over the White Sox at Municipal Stadium.
Despite a scoreless first inning, the Royals held a 7-0 lead after four innings. In the second inning, Lou Piniella led off with a single, but was eventually forced out at second on a Jerry Adair grounder for the second out. However, Chicago starter Gary Peters lost the strike zone, walking Jim Campanis, Bob Oliver, and pitcher Bill Butler to force in a run before getting a strikeout to end the inning.
Then the Royals started the third inning with three hits. Doubles by Luis Alcaraz and Joe Foy produced a run, and Foy reached third on Piniella’s bunt single. Chuck Harrison’s sacrifice fly gave KC a 3-0 lead. And Kansas City kept hitting in the fourth. Campanis started that inning with a double, but was still at second with two outs. Scott Northey brought him home with a triple, and Alcaraz singled for another run. Reliever Fred Rath replaced Peters, but Foy greeted him with a two-run home run. Foy’s 10th round-tripper of the year gave the Royals a 7-0 lead.
Butler had wobbled a bit in the first two innings, but then pitched two perfect innings. However, in the fifth, Duane Josephson doubled for two runs, and Luis Aparicio singled to cut the Royals’ lead to 7-3.
The comeback continued in the sixth. Chicago loaded the bases with two outs, and Moe Drabowsky replaced Butler. A Walt Williams fly ball produced one run, and Aparicio singled for another before Drabowsky got the final out with the tying runs on base.
Drabowsky followed that with two scoreless innings. Meanwhile, Northey singled and stole second in the sixth inning, then scored on a Foy double. In the eighth, they teamed up again. Northey tripled and scored on Foy’s single, pushing the Royals’ lead back up to four, at 9-5.
Those two extra runs became a big deal in the ninth. With Drabowsky still in the game, Aparicio led off with a single. Bill Melton singled with one out, and Bob Christian hit a three-run home run. With two outs, a walk and a single were finally enough to get Drabowsky out of the game. Al Fitzmorris recorded his first major-league save by getting the final out, a Josephson grounder to third.
Off the field, the Royals made news by announcing that Bob Lemon would serve as pitching coach, starting in the 1970 season. Lemon was replacing his former teammate Mel Harder, who planned to retire after 42 years in baseball. Lemon had followed a Hall of Fame career on the mound with several years of managing in the minor leagues, and he would eventually take over as Royals manager less than halfway through the 1970 season.
The Royals improved to 64-87 with the win and moved back ahead of the White Sox into fourth place in the AL West. They were 27 games behind Minnesota in the division.
Box score and play-by-play: https://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/KCA/KCA196909200.shtml
Today’s birthdays: Bob Detherage (1954), Angel Sanchez (1983)