Final, Royals 5-1: The Red Sox finally got on the scoreboard in the ninth inning. It was too little, too late.
Stephen Drew knocked in Jonny Gomes with an RBI single in the ninth, but Luke Hochevar closed out Kansas City’s win by getting Mike Napoli to ground into a 5-4-3 double play.
Bruce Chen was superb for 7 2/3 innings. He outdueled Jon Lester to guide the Royals to a 5-1 victory.
Chen didn’t allow a run in his seven-plus frames, and he allowed just five hits — all singles. The 36-year-old struck out two, walked one and absolutely controlled the pace.
The Royals seized control in the first inning by scoring three runs. After that, Lester settled down and tossed six straight scoreless innings to keep the Red Sox in the game. K.C. eventually added two more when Billy Butler and Justin Maxwell went deep against Rubby De La Rosa in the eighth inning.
Lester, who surrendered three runs (one earned) on four hits in seven innings, threw 121 pitches before calling it a night. He struck out four and walked two in a gritty losing effort.
The Red Sox will try to bounce back Friday, when they send Jake Peavy to the mound for his first road start since being acquired. Peavy will go up against a tough opponent in Ervin Santana, and the first pitch is scheduled for 8:10 p.m.
End 8th, Royals 5-0: Rubby De La Rosa was very impressive in his Red Sox debut Tuesday. He struggled in this one.
Billy Butler and Justin Maxwell each hit a solo homer in the eighth inning, and the Royals will now carry a 5-0 lead into the ninth inning.
Butler jumped on De La Rosa’s first pitch and drove it out to straightaway center field. Maxwell sent a two-out blast over the right-center field fence.
Luke Hochevar will come back out for the ninth inning. The Red Sox are scheduled to send up Dustin Pedroia, Jonny Gomes and Stephen Drew.
Mid 8th, Royals 3-0: The Red Sox will once again need to work their ninth-inning magic.
Daniel Nava and Jacoby Ellsbury provided a pair of singles in the eighth inning, but the Sox were once again held scoreless. If they’re going to rally again, it’s going to take a big ninth inning.
Nava led off the eighth with a single into center field, and Bruce Chen then retired Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Brock Holt before Ellsbury extended the inning with a single to left. That spelled the end of Chen’s night, but it was an excellent performance by the veteran lefty.
Luke Hochevar entered the game with two outs, and he ended the eighth inning by getting Shane Victorino to pop out into shallow left field.
Rubby De La Rosa will be the new Boston pitcher in the bottom of the eighth.
End 7th, Royals 3-0: It’s hard to complain about the effort turned in by Jon Lester.
Lester gave up three runs — only one of which was earned — in the first inning, but he then held the Royals scoreless over the next six frames.
Alcides Escobar reached on an error by Stephen Drew in the seventh inning. It was a tough error to shell out, as Drew charged in and tried to make a backhanded play. The ball bounced up near his wrist area, and Escobar reached.
Escobar then stole second base with one out, but Lester rebounded to escape the inning unscathed. Lorenzo Cain hit a sinking line drive that hung up just long enough for Jacoby Ellsbury to make a play, and Eric Hosmer grounded out to second base to end the inning.
Lester’s night is certainly done, as the left-hander’s pitch count sits at 121. It was a nice outing beyond the first inning, though. The only problem is that the Red Sox’ offense has been stymied by Bruce Chen.
Mid 7th, Royals 3-0: The Red Sox managed to get a baserunner in the seventh inning. That’s a step in the right direction, I guess.
Stephen Drew singled into center field with two down. Bruce Chen wasn’t fazed, though. He got Mike Napoli to fly out down the left field line to end the inning.
Prior to Drew’s single, Dustin Pedroia hit a little roller near the mound. Chen came off the hill and made the play himself, after which the trainer came out. Everything checked out OK.
Jonny Gomes grounded to the 80-year-old Miguel Tejada for the second out before Drew’s single and Napoli’s flyout.
End 6th, Royals 3-0: Jon Lester deserves a ton of credit for hanging in there in this game.
Lester’s night could have snowballed after Kansas City’s three-run first inning, but the left-hander has kept the Royals scoreless over the last five innings. He tossed a 1-2-3 inning in the sixth.
Miguel Tejada started the inning with a ground ball down to third base. Brock Holt struggled to corral it, but he eventually did and still threw out Tejada by half a step.
Justin Maxwell struck out swinging for the second out. Maxwell worked the count full, but Lester dialed it up to 94 mph to put him away.
The inning ended with Mike Moustakas, who drove in two runs in the first inning, flying out to center field.
Mid 6th, Royals 3-0: Bruce Chen is dealing.
Chen faced the top of the Red Sox’ order in the sixth inning, and he didn’t run into a lick of trouble.
Brock Holt and Shane Victorino each flied out to left field. In between, Jacoby Ellsbury struck out swinging.
Ellsbury chased a slider low and away, and Chen now has two strikeouts. The Red Sox’ offense has only been able to muster up two hits against the southpaw.
End 5th, Royals 3-0: Jon Lester was backed into a corner for the first time since the first inning. This time, he fought his way out of it unharmed.
Alcides Escobar drilled a line drive to the right side, and Daniel Nava tried to stretch out to make a play. The ball ricocheted off Nava’s glove and into right field, resulting in a leadoff single.
Nava had some more trouble two batters later after Lorenzo Cain struck out for the first out. Eric Hosmer hit a ground ball to Nava, and Nava had a potential inning-ending double play on his mind. He fumbled the ball, though, and he couldn’t recover in time. Escobar advanced to second while Hosmer reached safely at first.
Lester, to his credit, navigated through the trouble. He struck out Billy Butler on a high fastball, and he got Alex Gordon to pop out to Dustin Pedroia a few feet behind the second base bag.
Mid 5th, Royals 3-0: Bruce Chen is in cruise control right now.
Chen breezed through another inning in the sixth, and the Red Sox’ three-run deficit looks bigger and bigger every frame.
Chen struck out Mike Napoli to begin the sixth. Napoli fouled off a couple of pitches before Chen went upstairs to record the K.
Daniel Nava popped out to catcher Brett Hayes in foul territory for the second out, and Jarrod Saltalamacchia flied out to left field to end the inning.
End 4th, Royals 3-0: Mike Moustakas broke up a streak of eight in a row retired by Jon Lester. But he also ran into an out.
Justin Maxwell began the inning with a hooking line drive to left field that Jonny Gomes snagged, and Moustakas followed up by dropping a single into right field.
The Royals then put on a hit-and-run with Brett Hayes batting, and Hayes failed to make contact. Jarrod Saltalamacchia fired down to second base, where Moustakas was dead as a door nail. Dustin Pedroia had the ball in his glove waiting for him.
Hayes ended up grounding back to Lester to end the inning. Lester has really settled in nicely after a rough first inning. The Red Sox’ offense needs to come alive, though, as Bruce Chen has stymied the Boston bats through the first four innings.
Mid 4th, Royals 3-0: Three popouts surrounded a walk in the top of the fourth inning.
Bruce Chen issued a one-out walk to Dustin Pedroia, but Shane Victorino, Jonny Gomes and Stephen Drew all popped out in the infield.
Jon Lester takes the hill having retired seven straight.
End 3rd, Royals 3-0: Jon Lester enjoyed his second straight 1-2-3 inning after a shaky first.
Lester needed 11 pitches to get through the third inning, during which he retired Billy Butler, Alex Gordon and Miguel Tejada in order.
Butler grounded to third base and Gordon flied out to center before Shane Victorino capped the third inning with a nice sliding play.
Victorino charged in and went into the slide in shallow right-center field to take a hit away from Tejada.
Mid 3rd, Royals 3-0: Bruce Chen’s night is off to a nice start.
Chen sat the Red Sox down in order in the third inning. He’s thrown 39 pitches thus far, which is less than Jon Lester (41) threw in the first inning alone.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia started the third inning with a lazy fly ball into shallow center. Brock Holt grounded to short for the second out, and Jacoby Ellsbury flied to left for the final out.
Lester needed just seven pitches to get through a second inning in which he really settled down. Let’s see if he keeps it going in inning No. 3.
End 2nd, Royals 3-0: Jon Lester settled down in the second inning.
Lester, who was very shaky in the first inning, retired the side in order.
Alcides Escobar flied out to Shane Victorino in right field for the first out.
Lester then got back-to-back ground-ball outs. Lorenzo Cain chopped a ball down to third base, and Eric Hosmer grounded back to the mound.
Mid 2nd, Royals 3-0: Mike Napoli got the Red Sox’ only hit of the second inning.
The hit — a single into right field — was Napoli’s first since Friday. Napoli didn’t receive the start Wednesday, and he was hitless in his last 15 at-bats before the first-inning knock.
Prior to Napoli’s single, both Jonny Gomes and Stephen Drew — heroes of Wednesday’s game — flied out.
Daniel Nava grounded to third base to end the inning.
End 1st, Royals 3-0: The one positive from Jon Lester’s last outing was that he didn’t walk anybody. Walks killed him in the first inning.
Jonny Gomes also made a miscue in the first inning, although in his defense, it isn’t the ninth inning yet. (Of course, the later innings are when Gomes does his real damage.)
Lorenzo Cain started the bottom of the first with a double up over Gomes’ head. (There was nothing wrong with that, as not even Shaq has the frame to haul that liner in.) Cain advanced to third base when Eric Hosmer, who has been scorching, grounded down to first base. Jon Lester then issued his first walk to Billy Butler to put runners at the corners with one out.
Alex Gordon lifted a fly ball to left field, and Gomes looked as if he was getting himself into a good position to fire home as Cain tagged up from third. The only problem was that Gomes didn’t have it sized up. By the time Gomes started charging back in, it was too late, and the ball dropped beyond his outstretched glove. Cain crossed the plate with Kansas City’s first run.
The Royals posted two more runs in the inning, though, as Lester really struggled mightily. He walked Justin Maxwell to load the bases, and Mike Moustakas lined a 2-1 fastball down the right field line to score two runs.
Lester has already thrown 41 pitches.
Mid 1st, 0-0: Jacoby Ellsbury leads the majors with 40 stolen bases, but he had only been caught three times before this game. Ellsbury was picked off in the first inning.
Ellsbury lined Bruce Chen’s second pitch into center field for a leadoff single. He then had stealing on his mind, but guessed wrong. Chen tossed a pickoff throw to first as Ellsbury took off, and Eric Hosmer fired down to second base to complete the out.
Shane Victorino, who was ejected from Wednesday’s game for arguing a call with the third base umpire, flied out to his right field counterpart to begin his Thursday night.
Dustin Pedroia ended the inning with a ground ball into the hole that shortstop Alcides Escobar handled on the back hand.
8:11 p.m.: Bruce Chen’s first pitch is a strike. Let’s play some baseball.
7:44 p.m.: The Red Sox’ lineup (listed below) is certainly different than what we’re accustomed to seeing.
Jonny Gomes is making just his second start out of the cleanup spot, and Mike Napoli, who has really been struggling of late, is batting sixth for the first time all season.
This also marks the highest (fifth) that Stephen Drew has batted in the order all year. Drew has a .333 average, .425 on-base percentage and .600 slugging percentage in his last 26 games.
7:35 p.m.: Happy birthday, Craig Breslow. Breslow turned 33 today.
6:30 p.m.: Obviously, the lineup, which includes Daniel Nava, was a dead giveaway. But Nava has indeed been activated off the paternity leave list.
To make room for Nava, the Red Sox optioned pitcher Steven Wright back to Triple-A Pawtucket.
6:27 p.m.: The decision to sit David Ortiz is a rather interesting one.
Ortiz’s day off is simply to get him some rest, but it’s not often that you see such a down day after back-to-back four-hit performances.
The Red Sox are going up against a left-hander, so perhaps that factored into the decision, but Ortiz hasn’t been bad against Bruce Chen in his career. He’s hitting .280 (7-for-25) with a home run and eight RBIs in his career against the southpaw.
It’s also worth noting that Chen has actually been better against right-handers than left-handers this season. Lefties are hitting .270 with a .333 on-base percentage against Chen, while righties are hitting .193 with a .253 on-base percentage.
6:14 p.m.: David Ortiz is coming off back-to-back four-hit games, but he won’t be in Thursday’s starting lineup.
Ortiz will get the night off with lefty Bruce Chen on the mound. It’ll be Ortiz’s first day off since July 5, and Jonny Gomes will bat cleanup in his place. Gomes will man left field and Daniel Nava will play first base, while Mike Napoli will assume Ortiz’s designated hitter duties.
Thursday’s complete lineups are below.
Red Sox (70-46)
Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
Shane Victorino, RF
Dustin Pedroia, 2B
Jonny Gomes, LF
Stephen Drew, SS
Mike Napoli, DH
Daniel Nava, 1B
Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C
Brock Holt, 3B
Jon Lester, LHP (10-6, 4.52 ERA)
Lorenzo Cain, CF
Eric Hosmer, 1B
Billy Butler, DH
Alex Gordon, LF
Miguel Tejada, 2B
Justin Maxwell, RF
Mike Moustakas, 3B
Brett Hayes, C
Alcides Escobar, SS
Bruce Chen, LHP (4-0, 2.03 ERA)
8 a.m. ET: From train tracks to fountains. The Red Sox now take their talents to Kansas City after taking two of three in Houston.
The Red Sox’ series against the Astros had the potential to be disastrous. They were shut out in the series opener, fell into a 5-0 hole in the second game and trailed 5-2 with two outs in the seventh inning of Game 3. But fortunately for Boston, the resilience that has been the hallmark of the 2013 Red Sox was once again on display, and the Sox came from behind in each of the last two games.
The Red Sox will have their work cut out for them in Kansas City, though. The Royals have been one of the hottest teams in baseball of late, going 15-4 with six series wins since the All-Star break. Jon Lester, who got torched by the Diamondbacks in his last start, will be the first pitcher asked to cool off the Royals.
Lester gave up six runs on 11 hits in his last start, which was a major step back from the progress that the left-hander had made in his previous three outings. He’ll go up against fellow veteran southpaw, Bruce Chen, in the series opener of the teams’ four-game set. Lester will have history working in his favor, as he is 6-2 with a 1.64 ERA in nine career starts against Kansas City. In fact, the 1.64 ERA is the best mark among major league starters with at least 50 innings pitched against the Royals.
Thursday’s first pitch is scheduled for 8:10 p.m. Tune in on NESN, and keep it right here with NESN.com.