Big Papi hits career-best 48th homer, lifts Red Sox

BOSTON (AP) -- In a season that's quickly turned sour for Boston,
David Ortiz is giving Red Sox fans something to cheer for.

Ortiz hit his career-high 48th home run and Wily Mo Pena drove
in two runs to help the Boston Red Sox snap a three-game losing
streak with a 9-3 win over the Kansas City Royals on Sunday.

Big Papi now stands two homers shy of tying the single-season
franchise record for home runs. Jimmie Foxx set the record with 50
in 1938.

"It seems like it's a big deal here, so let's see if we can get
it done," said Ortiz, who went 2-for-3 and scored three runs.
"You've just got to take a couple of good swings, right? I've got
plenty of time."

The Red Sox avoided being swept at home by the Royals for the
first time since April 26-29, 1996. Boston remained 7½ games behind
the Minnesota Twins, who beat Detroit 12-1 Sunday, in the wild-card
race. The Red Sox trail the New York Yankees by 10 games in the
American League East.

Pena, who started in left field and batted cleanup in place of
Manny Ramirez, went 3-for-4. Ramirez sat out with a sore right knee
and was expected back Tuesday in Baltimore. Boston snapped a
five-game losing streak to Kansas City.

Julian Tavarez (3-4) allowed three runs in 5 1-3 innings to win
his first decision since moving into Boston's starting rotation
Aug. 31 after making 52 relief appearances.

"Every time I go out there and I go four or five innings, I'm
going to say I had a good outing because what I'm doing right now I
wasn't prepared for," Tavarez said. "This is something I'm doing
because my team needs it."

Tavarez, who before this season hadn't started a game since
Sept. 17, 2002, didn't allow a hit until Emil Brown singled with
two outs in the fourth inning. Tavarez allowed one more hit in the
fifth before the Royals scored three runs in the sixth to pull
within 5-3 and chase him from the game. Bryan Corey relieved
Tavarez and got out of the inning by striking out Shane Costa and
getting Ryan Shealy to ground out to shortstop.

The Red Sox then scored three runs in the sixth to extend their
lead to 8-3.

After Alex Gonzalez flied out to center to lead off the inning,
Youkilis reached second when center fielder Joey Gathright dropped
a routine pop fly and scored on Mark Loretta's single up the
middle. Ortiz then followed with a two-run homer off lefty Andrew
Sisco to give Boston an 8-3 lead.

"They don't chant M-V-P just because the guy's an average
hitter," Sisco said. "If you make a mistake, inches can mean
hundreds of feet, literally. You don't get a lot of second chances
against a guy like that."

It was Ortiz's first homer since returning to the lineup Tuesday
after missing eight games with heart palpitations. He went hitless
in his first two games back before going 6-for-12 in three games
against Kansas City.

"Everything was happening kind of fast at the time," said
Ortiz, whose previous career high for homers (47) came last year.
"I spent 10 days without grabbing a bat or seeing a baseball, so
right now it's a totally different situation."

The Royals missed out on the chance to sweep their first road
series since July 11-13, 2003, when they won three straight against
the Texas Rangers. Kansas City has gone 86 consecutive road series
without a sweep, the longest stretch in franchise history and the
third-longest in the majors since 1923.

"Sweeping these guys at home would have been nice," Kansas
City catcher John Buck said. "But the next step in the learning
process is not to be satisfied with two wins and obviously go after
that third one."

Brown went 2-for-4 with two RBI for Kansas City.

Mark Redman (9-9) allowed five runs and nine hits in 4 2-3
innings, snapping his two-game winning streak. Redman had allowed
one run in 16 innings in his two previous starts -- a 2-0 win over
Minnesota on Aug. 29 and a 7-3 win over the Chicago White Sox on
Sept. 3 -- but was touched early by Boston.

The Red Sox took a 1-0 lead in the first inning on Pena's RBI
single. Boston then scored three more runs in the third to extend
its lead to 4-0.

Mike Lowell went 2-for-4 with two RBI for the Red Sox.

Game notes
Boston OF Coco Crisp sat out with an injured left index
finger. He is expected to return Tuesday in Baltimore following
Monday's off day. ... Kansas City DH Mike Sweeney was a last-minute
scratch with tightness in his right oblique. Royals manager Buddy
Bell said Sweeney is day to day. ... Kansas City and Boston are
both 23-34 since the All-Star break. ... Kansas City won the season
series with Boston for the first time since 2000. ... Brown had his
first multi-RBI game since driving in three against Boston on Aug.