Final, Royals 4-3: Greg Holland secured the win in the ninth inning, and the Royals have taken three of four from the Red Sox.
James Shields pitched seven solid innings for Kansas City to earn the victory. John Lackey suffered the loss despite battling hard for seven frames.
Lackey gave up four earned runs — all in the first three innings — on seven hits in his seven innings of work. He struck out five and walked two.
Alex Gordon led the way for the Royals’ offense while also having a strong day in left field. Gordon went 3-for-4 with a home run, two RBIs and a stolen base.
The Red Sox will be off Monday before traveling to Toronto for a three-game set with the Blue Jays. Ryan Dempster gets the ball in Tuesday’s series opener.
Good night, everyone.
End 8th, Royals 4-3: Drake Britton escaped a major jam in the eighth inning, and Boston’s deficit stands at one run as we head to the ninth inning.
The Royals loaded the bases in the eighth, although a few breaks went the Red Sox’ way.
Billy Butler singled into left field to begin the inning, and he was then lifted for a pinch-runner in Justin Maxwell. Britton fired to first to try to pick off Maxwell, and the ball got away from Mike Napoli. Maxwell aggressively tried to take second base, but Napoli delivered a good toss to throw him out.
Alex Gordon then struck a fly ball to deep center field that landed just out of the reach of Jacoby Ellsbury, who went into a dive near the warning track. The Sox caught a break, as the ball kicked up over the fence for a ground-rule double.
Britton walked Salvador Perez intentionally and Mike Moustakas unintentionally to load the bases. The lefty got out of the jam by getting Alcides Escobar to ground to third base — which ended in a forceout at home — and striking Jarrod Dyson.
Ryan Lavarnway, Will Middlebrooks and Jacoby Ellsbury are due up against Royals closer Greg Holland in the ninth.
Mid 8th, Royals 4-3: The Red Sox couldn’t bring around the tying run.
Tim Collins started the eighth inning and retired David Ortiz on a fly ball to left field. Alex Gordon has had a nice day defensively, and he went a long way to track down Ortiz’s fly ball near the foul line.
The Royals then turned to right-hander Aaron Crow with Jonny Gomes digging in as a pinch-hitter. Gomes has had a ton of success pinch-hitting this season, hitting .375 (6-for-16) in now 23 plate appearances in the role. Gomes walked this time around.
Crow recorded two straight strikeouts after walking Gomes. He fanned both Mike Napoli and the red-hot Stephen Drew.
The Red Sox will need some ninth-inning magic to extend this game. Drake Britton will be the one tasked with keeping it a one-run game, as he’ll take over in the eighth after warming up multiple times in recent innings.
4:35 p.m., Royals 4-3: Tim Collins took care of David Ortiz, and the Royals will now turn to Aaron Crow.
The Royals waited until Jonny Gomes was announced as the pinch-hitter for Daniel Nava before turning to the right-hander.
End 7th, Royals 4-3: Both pitchers deserve credit for battling in this game.
John Lackey got off to a shaky start, but he has held Kansas City scoreless over the last four frames. In the process, he has given the Red Sox a chance to win.
Lackey tossed a 1-2-3 seventh inning that included a strikeout and two groundouts.
Mike Napoli made a nice play to end the inning. Eric Hosmer ripped a hot shot down the first base line, and Napoli made a diving stop before taking it to the bag himself.
Mid 7th, Royals 4-3: James Shields has pitched well despite a few hiccups.
Shields tossed a 1-2-3 inning in the seventh, and he capped it by helping his own cause.
Jacoby Ellsbury grounded out to short, and Shane Victorino flied out to left field. Then, Dustin Pedroia hit a comebacker that Shields snagged before tossing to first to end the frame.
John Lackey will come out for another inning.
End 6th, Royals 4-3: John Lackey got into some trouble, but he came up with a huge strikeout to keep the deficit at one run.
Salvador Perez and Alcides Escobar singled in the sixth inning to put runners at first and second with two outs. The Royals couldn’t give themselves any cushion, though.
Lackey struck out Jarrod Dyson swinging to end the threat. The right-hander was visibly fired up after picking up the K.
There was a brief delay prior to Dyson striking out. There was some debate regarding the count, and home plate umpire Greg Gibson even had to call upstairs to sort out the situation.
Mid 6th, Royals 4-3: This game just got a whole lot more interesting.
Ryan Lavarnway lined a two-run single down the third base line, and we’ve got ourselves a one-run ballgame.
Daniel Nava was the first man to reach in the sixth inning. He got jammed by James Shields, but he fought off a little roller down the third base line and reached via an infield single with one out.
Stephen Drew upped the ante by doubling to right field. Drew extended his hit streak to 12 games earlier in the contest, and he continues to swing a hot bat.
Lavarnway delivered the big hit in the inning, though, and he now has two hits in this game. Lavarnway grounded a 1-1 pitch past Mike Moustakas at third base, and both Nava and Drew scored.
It’s important that John Lackey now provided his third straight scoreless frame. He enters the sixth inning having retired eight in a row.
End 5th, Royals 4-1: John Lackey made it back-to-back scoreless innings with a perfect fifth.
Eric Hosmer and Billy Butler both popped out in the frame, while David Lough grounded out to first base.
David Ortiz, Daniel Nava and Mike Napoli will look to get something going against James Shields in the sixth.
Mid 5th, Royals 4-1: Alex Gordon had a nice inning defensively, and James Shields worked through a hit and a walk.
Ryan Lavarnway singled to lead off the fifth inning, and Will Middlebrooks walked to put two on with no outs. Shields settled down from there with a little help from Gordon.
Jacoby Ellsbury lifted a fly ball down the left field line, and Gordon tracked it down in foul territory while banging into the wall.
Shane Victorino then scorched a ball to left field, and Gordon made the play before tossing it to second base, where he almost executed a double play.
Dustin Pedroia hit a ball to right field that David Lough put away for the final out.
End 4th, Royals 4-1: John Lackey kept Kansas City off the scoreboard for the first time in the fourth inning.
Lackey enjoyed a much-needed 1-2-3 inning, and he’ll need to stay settled in with James Shields starting to get comfortable for the Royals.
Alcides Escobar led off the fourth with a line shot down at Will Middlebrooks. Middlebrooks made the grab, although it was actually a matter of self defense more than anything.
Jarrod Dyson tried to bunt his way on, and he almost did, as Lackey stumbled a bit after trying to field the bunt bid in the air. Lackey kept his cool, though, and he picked it up and fired to first for the out.
Elliot Johnson popped out for the final out.
Mid 4th, Royals 4-1: James Shields gave Mike Napoli a free pass down to first base. That was all.
Shields retired David Ortiz and Daniel Nava to begin the inning. Ortiz grounded out for the first out, and Nava flied out to center field for the second out.
Napoli walked with two down in the inning, but Shields bounced back to retire Stephen Drew. Drew hit a popup into foul territory along the third base line, and Mike Moustakas shielded his eyes to record the out.
End 3rd, Royals 4-1: It’s been a rough start for John Lackey. The Royals have now scored in each of the first three innings.
Alex Gordon, who smacked an RBI single in the first inning, extended Kansas City’s lead with a solo blast in the third.
Salvador Perez grounded out to third base, and Mike Moustakas flied out to right field to end the inning.
The Red Sox now face a three-run deficit, which looks even larger with James Shields toeing the rubber for K.C.
Mid 3rd, Royals 3-1: Will Middlebrooks singled in his first at-bat of the afternoon, giving him three hits since returning from the minors.
Middlebrooks led off the third inning with a single into left, although he was quickly wiped off the bases when Jacoby Ellsbury grounded into a rare double play.
Shane Victorino reached with two outs when James Shields hit him in the elbow with a pitch. Victorino made no effort to get out of the way — he even kind of leaned into it — and Shields took that up with the umpires to no avail.
Dustin Pedroia popped out to end the inning.
End 2nd, Royals 3-1: It was a frustrating inning for John Lackey.
Mike Moustakas, who made a nice play to start a double play in the top of the frame, gave one a ride to right field for a leadoff double.
Alcides Escobar then dropped down a sacrifice bunt. Will Middlebrooks charged in to make the play, but the bunt got the job done, as Moustakas took third base.
Jarrod Dyson gave Kansas City its first lead of the game by sending a single into right field, and he quickly moved up into scoring position himself by stealing second base.
David Lough gave the Royals a 3-1 advantage with a broken-bat single into right field that scored Dyson from second base.
Lough ended up stealing second base as well before Lackey got out of the inning. It’s clear that the Royals are looking to push the envelope, so Ryan Lavarnway could be busy behind the plate.
Mid 2nd, 1-1: Stephen Drew extended his hit streak to 12 games in the second inning.
Drew entered the game hitting .415 (17-for-41) over the life of his 11-game streak, and he didn’t wait around to extend it. Drew is now 22 for his last 56.
Drew’s one-out single — which followed a Mike Napoli strikeout — didn’t lead to anything in the runs column, though. Ryan Lavarnway grounded to third base, where Mike Moustakas started an inning-ending double play.
End 1st, 1-1: John Lackey’s escape bid came up short.
Lackey struggled with his control and found himself in trouble right away. He walked both David Lough and Eric Hosmer to begin his afternoon, and his next opponent was Billy Butler, who has been smoking the baseball all over Kauffman Stadium this series.
Lackey got a big ground ball to third base, and it resulted in a 5-4-3 double play that changed the complexion of the inning. Suddenly, Lackey was one out away from getting out of the inning unscathed.
Alex Gordon didn’t let Lackey off the hook, though. He singled into center field to tie the game at one apiece.
The Royals nearly took the lead when Salvador Perez sent a ball toward the left-center field gap. But Jacoby Ellsbury made yet another fantastic grab, as he slid to make the catch after showing plenty of range.
Mid 1st, Red Sox 1-0: Salvador Perez is back behind the plate after a stint on the seven-day concussion list. He’s off to a rough start, though.
Shane Victorino got the Red Sox’ offense going in the first inning with a line drive over the head of left fielder Alex Gordon. The ball bounced off the wall, and Victorino cruised into second base with a one-out double.
James Shields then got ahead of Dustin Pedroia, 1-2, after Pedroia fouled off a couple of offspeed pitches. Shields missed with three straight fastballs, though, and Pedroia walked to put two on with one out for David Ortiz.
Victorino swiped third base with Ortiz at the plate, and Daniel Nava came up with runners at the corners after Ortiz struck out swinging. That’s when Perez fired down to third base in an effort to pick off Victorino. Perez’s throw hit off Victorino’s back and bounced into left field, resulting in Boston’s first run.
Perez certainly isn’t afraid to use his arm, as the errant throw is his seventh error of the season.
2:14 p.m.: James Shields toes the rubber, and we’re underway.
2:05 p.m.: The Red Sox have been impressive in day games this season, for whatever reason.
The Sox enter Sunday’s matinee with a major league-best 21-11 record in day games this season. They have an AL-best 3.15 ERA in day games — it’s the second-best figure in MLB to the Dodgers’ 2.62 ERA.
1:57 p.m.: The Red Sox avoided their third straight loss Saturday, but the Rays couldn’t escape their fourth consecutive defeat.
With Boston’s win and Tampa Bay’s loss, the Red Sox now hold a three-game lead in the AL East entering Sunday’s action.
The Red Sox’ longest losing streak this season is three games, which they’ve done four times. They’re the only team in baseball without a losing streak of at least four games, which really speaks to their consistency and ability to bounce back, no matter the circumstances.
1:39 p.m.: David Ross began a rehab assignment Saturday. He’s been on the disabled list because of a concussion since June 18.
Ross went 0-for-2 with an RBI while serving as a DH for Double-A Portland. He is playing for the Sea Dogs again on Sunday.
1:04 p.m.: Jacoby Ellsbury tore it up again in Saturday’s win, and man, has he been awesome over the last two and a half months?
Ellsbury is hitting .353 (91-for-258) since May 26, which is tops in the American League over that span. He is also among the AL eaders in average (ninth, .305), hits (sixth, 142), multi-hit games (tied for seventh, 40) and runs (tied for seventh, 71). His 142 hits and 205 total bases top all leadoff hitters.
You could even make the case that Ellsbury has been the Red Sox’ best player overall this season. His 4.6 WAR is the best mark on the team.
11:12 a.m.: Ryan Lavarnway will get the start behind the plate Sunday. He’ll bat eighth, while Will Middlebrooks will bat out of the No. 9 hole for the second straight game.
Check out Sunday’s complete lineups below.
Red Sox (71-48)
Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
Shane Victorino, RF
Dustin Pedroia, 2B
David Ortiz, DH
Daniel Nava, LF
Mike Napoli, 1B
Stephen Drew, SS
Ryan Lavarnway, C
Will Middlebrooks, 3B
John Lackey, RHP (7-9, 3.21 ERA)
David Lough, RF
Eric Hosmer, 1B
Billy Butler, DH
Alex Gordon, LF
Salvador Perez, C
Mike Moustakas, 3B
Alcides Escobar, SS
Jarrod Dyson, CF
Elliot Johnson, 2B
James Shields, RHP (6-8, 3.36 ERA)
8 a.m. ET: Felix Doubront didn’t have his best stuff Saturday, but the Red Sox’ bullpen bailed him out. Now, the Red Sox enter Sunday’s series finale with a chance to salvage a split of their four-game series with the Royals.
Doubront didn’t make it out of the fifth inning Saturday before John Farrell turned to the ‘pen. Brandon Workman came in and did an excellent job of minimizing the damage after the Royals threatened to completely erase Boston’s lead. Workman, Craig Breslow, Junichi Tazawa and Koji Uehara all helped nail down Boston’s 5-3 win.
The Red Sox received contributions from a number of sources Saturday, but Jacoby Ellsbury and Will Middlebrooks led the way. Ellsbury had four hits while once again solidifying himself as one of the game’s elite, and Middlebrooks provided a major spark in his big league return, picking up two hits and two RBIs.
John Lackey will look to make it two in a row for the Sox on Sunday, but he’ll face a worthy adversary in James Shields. The first pitch is scheduled for 2:10 p.m. ET, so tune in on NESN and stick around here.