The new gritty, superstar- less Red Sox defeated the Kansas City Royals, 8-6, Sunday at Fenway Park before 37,188, taking two of the first three games in the four-game series which ends Monday afternoon. As usual, it wasn’t easy.
The Red Sox, who produced 20 hits in a 10-9 loss to the Royals Saturday night in 12 innings, rebounded on a pristine day at Fenway with 14 hits and took advantage of two errors by Royals shortstop Alcides Escobar to score two key runs.
The Sox bullpen had to hold on for dear life as newcomer Pedro Beato had two strong innings under his belt before he left the game in the eighth with the bases loaded and nobody out.
Acting manager Tim Bogar, who replaced Bobby Valentine after he was ejected in the fifth inning for arguing a close play involving Dustin Pedroia, called for lefty Craig Breslow who entered a tough situation and allowed two runs to score, one on a sacrifice fly by Eric Hosmer and another on a Tony Abreu single. But Breslow, who went 3-1 on Lorenzo Cain, came back to strike him out to end the inning and preserve the one-run lead.
Dustin Pedroia hit a solo homer in the eighth to stretch it out to a two-run lead for closer-of-the-day Mark Melancon, who preserved the win. Melancon closed because Alfredo Aceves is serving his suspension for conduct detrimental to the team. Andrew Bailey had been used too much recently to be available.
While there were plenty of empty seats at Fenway despite the 781st consecutive announced sellout, the enthusiastic crowd stood and cheered during Pedro Ciriaco’s bases-loaded at-bat in the seventh inning and went wild when he beat out an infield hit, his third hit of the game (he homered in the fifth), to drive in Boston’s seventh run.
The Sox traded Adrian Gonzalez, who was the featured player in a nine-player deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers which was officially announced Saturday but pretty much consummated on Friday. The Sox also played without David Ortiz for the second straight game. Ortiz has recurring soreness in his right Achilles heel and is contemplating shutting it down for the season.
But the Red Sox seem to be doing just fine with their no-name, dirt dog lineup.
First baseman James Loney, who went from the Dodgers to the Red Sox, had a big hit in his Red Sox debut -- a single up the middle in the fifth inning which tied the score at 4-4.
The Red Sox broke a 4-4 deadlock with an unearned run in the sixth inning. Designated hitter Mauro Gomez reached on a error by shortstop Alcides Escobar which opened the door for the scoring opportunity. A Mike Aviles single to left finally knocked Kansas City Royals starter Will Smith out of the game. But after two outs, Jacoby Ellsbury reached on an infield hit off Johnny Giovatella’s glove to score Gomez with the go-ahead run.
The Red Sox bounced out to a 2-0 lead after two innings.
In the first, after a Ciriaco leadoff single and a one-out double by Pedroia to put runners in scoring position, Cody Ross singled to left to score the first run.
In the second inning, Mike Aviles doubled in Mauro Gomez (walk) giving Boston a 2-0 lead.
Felix Doubront, returning from a 15-day stint on the disabled list, couldn’t hold the lead as has been a trait of Red Sox pitchers of late. He got into two-out difficulty in the fourth inning, allowing a pair of singles to Johnny Giavotella and Eric Hosmer, before Saturday night’s hero, Tony Abreu, singled in Kansas City’s first run.
Doubront, who lasted five innings, allowing six hits and four earned runs, couldn’t stop the bleeding there. Lorenzo Cain stepped up and stroked a three-run homer, a hard-liner in to the Monster seats to give the Royals a 4-2 lead.
The Red Sox tied it up in the fifth, however, scoring two runs against lefty starter Will Smith on Ciriaco’s line drive homer off the AAA sign in leftre. That was followed by Loney’s hit after Jacoby Ellsbury, advanced to second base on Pedroia’s close call at first on a grounder. After Ellsbury stole third and Ross walked, Loney singled up the middle to tie the game at 4-4.