Kansas City’s James Shields and Boston’s John Lackey turned in gritty performances Sunday afternoon. Shields was a little bit better and KC’s bullpen turned back any hope of a Red Sox rally to score a 4-3 win over Boston. The victory gave the Royals a three games to one series win at home and closed out the 2013 series between the two teams with KC holding a 5-2 advantage.
Shields, who has faced the Red Sox many times as a former member of the Tampa Bay Rays, gutted out seven innings, giving up three runs, two of them earned, on seven hits, three walks, five strike outs on 114 pitches to improve to 7-8 on the season.
Lackey, who struggled through the first three innings but then settled in, took the loss for Boston to drop to 7-10 on the year. His pitching line deserved better at seven innings pitched, four earned runs on seven hits, two walks and five strike outs. The big right-hander has suffered a number of starts with little offensive support from Boston, which could not crack KC’s defense or bullpen in an important four-game series.
The Red Sox slipped to 71-49 on the season, 32-28 on the road, and 14-14 against the Central Division. Kansas City won for the 16th time in 19 games and remains in the Wild Card hunt. The Royals have been especially tough this year against A.L. East teams, compiling a 17-13 record thus far on the season.
Both teams got on the board in the first frame. Shane Victorino doubled off James Sheilds with one out, stole third and scored a cheap run when KC catcher Salvador Perez tried to pick him off third base. An errant throw that hit a retreating Victorino in the back, then bounced into left field put the Red Sox on top 1-0.
Kansas City responded in the bottom of the first. David Lough and Eric Hosmer worked John Lackey for walks to start the inning with Lough scoring on an RBI single from Alex Gordon. Jacoby Ellsbury made a running slide catch off the bat of Perez to bail Lackey and the red Sox from further damage in the frame.
The Royals added a pair of runs in the second off a struggling Lackey. Mike Moustakas began the inning with double off the right field wall, moved to third on a sacrifice bunt and scored on Jarrod Dyson’s RBI single. Dyson promptly stole second and scored on a broken bat single from David Lough to make it 3-1 in favor of the Royals.
Lackey gave up his fourth run of the game in the bottom of the third when he was tagged by Alex Gordon for a soaring home run over the right field wall, Gordon’s 14th round-tripper of the year to make it 4-1 Kansas City.
Boston crawled back into the game with a pair of runs in the top of the sixth inning. Daniel Nava singled and Stephen Drew doubled off Shields to place runners at second and third for the Red Sox. Ryan Lavarnway cracked a two RBI single to score both, making it a one-run game with KC on top 4-3.
Kansas City’s bullpen silenced any Boston comeback through the remainder of the game, turning the Red Sox away 1-2-3 in the top of the seventh inning. Tim Collins and Aaron Crow, in relief of Sheilds in the eighth, struck out Mike Napoli and Stephen Drew. In the ninth, Kansas City’s Greg Holland came on to close out the game with a save, his 32nd of the season, getting Ryan Lavarnway to ground out to shortstop, and finishing off the Red Sox with strike outs to Middlebrooks and Ellsbury.
The Red Sox now continue on the final leg of a 10-game road trip. Following an off day Monday, Boston heads north of the border for a three game series against A.L. East rivals the Toronto Blue Jays. The Red Sox then return home to Fenway briefly on August 16-17-18 for some much needed home-cooking, and a visit from the Alex Rodriguez traveling circus known as the New York Yankees. After the short pit stop at Fenway, Boston heads deep West for a six-game Inter-League engagement featuring three with San Francisco then a trio of games against the Dodgers.
Looking ahead to the final month of the season, Boston has 13 home games and a dozen road games on its September calendar, including a season-ending three game series against Boston nemesis, Baltimore.
Categories: A-AMERICAN LEAGUE