KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Red Sox held a team meeting before Thursday night’s game against the Kansas City Royals. It was an opportunity for chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom to address the team regarding his strategy at the trade deadline.
If the bullpen wasn’t a topic, it should have been.
An overmatched Darwinzon Hernandez allowed four runs in the seventh inning to give the Royals a 7-3 victory at Kauffman Stadium.
A disputed three-run homer by Salvador Perez was the topic of conversation afterward. But even if replay had taken a run off the board for Kansas City, it would have changed only the score, not the result.
“That’s not the game,” Alex Cora said. “We’ve got to be better.”
In a 3-3 game, Cora called on Hernandez for the bottom of the seventh inning. With two lefthanded hitters up, he was “100 percent” sure that was the right call.
“We’ve still got three more games in this series and to burn [righthander Garrett Whitlock] or somebody else, it doesn’t make sense,” Cora said. “We need to do a good job there.”
Instead Hernandez walked leadoff hitter Nick Lopez. M.J. Melendez and Bobby Witt followed with singles to score the go-ahead run before Perez homered.
The ball hit near the base of the foul pole, off a green section of paint that would indicate it was in play. The ball ricocheted into left field but was ruled a home run on the field.
“We all thought it was going to be overturned,” Cora said.
The Sox challenged the call but it was upheld in New York by umpires Mark Carlson and Paul Emmel. Cora calmly went out to talk to crew chief Bill Welke and was ejected, as replays can’t be disputed.
“I don’t want to get into that. I don’t think I deserved to be thrown out,” he said.
Hernandez, who was recalled from Triple A earlier in the day, has pitched well in previous seasons. But he has allowed nine earned runs over 4⅔ innings in five major league games this season.
Another issue was that the Red Sox were held to six hits and struck out nine times against four Kansas City pitchers. New first baseman Eric Hosmer was 0 for 3 with a walk.
“We’ve got to be better,” Cora said. “We cannot rely on three or four guys.”
The Royals, who have the second-worst record in the American League at 42-64, had 11 hits.
The first inning was eventful.
The new-look Sox lineup was initially productive as Jaylin Davis drew a walk, went to third on a double by Tommy Pham. They both scored when Rafael Devers singled to left field.
With two outs, Hosmer worked a nine-pitch at-bat against lefthander Kris Bubic. It ended with a 102.5-mph line drive to center field that was caught at the wall by Michael A. Taylor.
Nick Pivetta didn’t need long to squander the 2-0 lead.
Melendez led off the bottom of the inning with a home run to center off a mislocated fastball.
Witt followed with a single to center. He stole second base, took third on a fly ball by Perez, and scored on a fly ball off the bat of rookie Vinnie Pasquantino.
Pivetta left runners stranded in scoring position in the second and fourth innings. But not in the fifth.
Lopez drew a walk, stole second, and scored on a two-out, two-strike single to right field by Perez. Pivetta located a slider off the plate but Perez extended his bat and drove the ball the other way for a 3-2 Kansas City lead.
Pivetta went five innings and allowed three runs. His earned run average was 3.23 on June 29. It has since climbed to 4.51. Pivetta’s last victory was on June 24.
“I was really happy with my results today,” Pivetta said. “Perez put a good swing on a slider down and away.”
Bubic went six innings, retiring 13 of the last 14 batters he faced. Righthander Taylor Clarke started the seventh and got two outs before Christian Arroyo doubled down the line in left.
Kevin Plawecki’s single up the middle made it 3-3. Jarren Duran drew a walk to extend the inning but pinch hitter Alex Verdugo struck out looking at a borderline fastball.
The Sox turned to Hernandez with the game tied. Soon it was not.
Peter Abraham can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @PeteAbe.