The Boston Red Sox’s 7-1 win over the Kansas City Royals turned on two hits that landed in almost identical spots, roughly 20 minutes apart and with each team’s center fielder giving chase. But where Jacoby Ellsbury tracked the ball down for an out, Melky Cabrera couldn’t quite reach it and a swing in runs ensued.
Oh, a three-run homer from Jared Saltalamacchia didn’t hurt either on a night when the Sox offense had its best showing in two weeks.
And it all happened after the Sox had spoiled two bases-loaded chances in the first three innings and trailed the Royals 1-0.
With a runner on third in the third inning, Alex Gordon lined a ball into the right-centerfield gap. Off the bat, it looked like extra bases, but Ellsbury reached the ball just before the warning track to make a running catch.
The run scored on the sacrifice fly, but Ellsbury’s catch kept the bases empty. The Sox ended the inning still down 1-0.
With a runner on second in the next inning, Darnell McDonald ripped a line drive into the right-centerfield gap. Off the bat, it looked like an out, but Cabrera couldn’t quite get to it.
McDonald tripled and Carl Crawford scored to tie the game. McDonald then scored on a sacrifice fly from Ellsbury, the man who started the change of fortune in the first place.
Then the Sox offense took off.
For the second straight game, Boston produced hits in bulk. After scoring four or fewer runs in their last six games, the Sox sprayed Kauffman Stadium with 13 hits.
The Red Sox fell behind for the 10th straight game after Andrew Miller gave up a run on a sacrifice fly in the third. But that was his only blemish.
With Miller making his first start in two weeks, manager Terry Francona said before the game that Miller wouldn’t throw as many pitches as he might if he’d been consistently starting. Miller, though, made the most of his limited pitches.
He went 5 1/3 innings on 83 pitches, gave up just three hits and one run, and allowed only three runners to reach scoring position. Alfredo Aceves picked up his second save of the year with 3 2/3 scoreless innings of relief.
The Sox had 18 hits and nine runs in their last four games. They hadn’t scored at least seven runs in their last nine games.
Rookie Ryan Lavarnway got his first major-league hit in the fifth inning, but he also recorded inning-ending outs twice with the bases loaded.