ST. LOUIS - Yuniesky Betancourt started the game on the Kansas City bench. He ended it by getting the biggest hit of the day.
Betancourt was called upon in the first inning when Chris Getz sustained a leg injury. In the 15th, he hit a two-run homer with two outs to lift the Royals to a 5-3 win over the St. Louis Cardinals on Sunday.
"I don't even know if I could (describe it)," Kansas City manager Ned Yost said. "We won, that's all I can say."
Yost and Cardinals manager Mike Matheny combined to use all 43 position players in the 5-hour game.
Betancourt gave the Royals a 3-2 lead in the 14th on an RBI double, but Kansas City closer Jonathan Broxton (1-1) gave it back. Betancourt then came through with his next opportunities.
"That's destiny," Betancourt said of his two RBI chances through an interpreter. "It was my opportunity to put the team ahead twice. I was trying to do my best and it happened."
Down to their last strike in the ninth, pinch-hitter Billy Butler homered off Cardinals closer Jason Motte for the Royals to tie it. The home run was Butler's 12th, but the first of his career as a pinch hitter.
"He blew the pitch right before by me," Butler said. "I just figured I had to shorten up and put the barrel on it. That's what I did."
Jarrod Dyson began 15th inning with a bunt single off St. Louis reliever Eduardo Sanchez (0-1). Dyson was sacrificed to second and, after an out, Betancourt hit an 0-1 pitch into the Royals' bullpen.
Alex Gordon opened the 14th with his fifth walk, tying the club record he set on July 30, 2008, at Oakland.
Yadier Molina, the last available St. Louis position player, had a pinch-hit RBI single in the 14th off Broxton to tie it 3-all. Broxton was perfect in the 15th for the victory.
"This is as tough as they have been," Matheny said. "I don't know any other way to say it."
Butler hit an 0-2 pitch from Motte 438 feet over the Cardinals' bullpen in left to tie the game 2-2. Motte has blown four saves in 18 chances.
"I was obviously trying to go for the strikeout and throw it by him," Motte said. "He guessed right and hit it out of the ballpark."
Matt Holliday and Allen Craig hit back-to-back home runs for the Cardinals and Carlos Beltran extended his hitting streak to 10 games with a first-inning single. Beltran is batting .462 (18 for 39) during his streak.
Humberto Quintero drove in the Royals' other run with an RBI single in the second off Cardinals starter Adam Wainwright, who allowed one run in seven innings.
Royals starter Luis Mendoza was cruising with a 1-0 lead with one out in the sixth when Holliday hit a 434-foot drive to the bleachers in left-centre. The homer was Holliday's second in two days and 12th overall. Two pitches later, Craig hit his eighth home run down the line in left, a 400-foot shot, to give the Cardinals a 2-1 advantage.
Mendoza lasted six innings, giving up two runs while striking out five and walking one.
NOTES: Umpire Kerwin Danley, who was treated for dehydration after working the plate Saturday, was on medical leave Sunday. He was replaced by Mike Estabrook. ... Royals second baseman Chris Getz left the game with a lower leg strain while trying to get to Beltran's first-inning single. ... Cardinals shortstop Rafael Furcal, mired in a 2-for-31 slump, was not in the starting lineup for the second time in three games. ... Mendoza has not won since May 13 (three starts). ... The homers by Holliday and Craig marked the sixth time the Cardinals have gone back-to-back. . . . Holliday left the game in the eighth for a pinch runner due to what Matheny said was a leg injury. "He's got a little something going on," Matheny said. "We got to a situation where we could get him out and it made sense."