KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A hard grounder to the shortstop hit right in front of him, and Rick Ankiel took off running. Even with a bobble, he was out 10 feet before the bag.
A homer and game-winning hit later, Kansas City's new outfielder more than made up for it.
Shaking off his baserunning blunder and some harsh words from his manager, Ankiel hit a broken-bat, two-run single off Daniel Bard in the eighth inning Friday night to lift the Royals to a 4-3 win over the struggling Boston Red Sox.
"I made a mistake, but you've got to put that behind you and keep playing baseball," Ankiel said.
He sure did.
Ankiel, who opened with a single in the second inning, made his baserunning gaffe in the fourth after lining a double to the gap in right-center wall. Royals manager Trey Hillman didn't chew out Ankiel right away, waiting until the next inning to firmly let him know that kind of mistake, especially on a team that can't afford many blunders, wasn't acceptable.
The pitcher-turned-slugger responded, following Billy Butler's solo homer in the sixth with a solo shot on the next pitch, then jammed a two-out single over Scutaro's head in the eighth.
"He did enough good things for us tonight," Hillman said of Ankiel.
What hurt the Red Sox was their bullpen. Again.
Boston lost two of three to rival New York in Boston after its relievers allowed six earned runs and walked eight in 12 1/3 innings. The Red Sox did it again against KC, making it three straight losses out of the bullpen and a disappointing start for last year's AL Wild Card team.
"Right now, we're just trying to find a good rhythm for everybody," Wakefield said.
It all fell apart in the eighth.
Wakefield, back from offseason back surgery, baffled Kansas City's hitters most of the night, allowing the homers to Butler and Ankiel and not much else. He left after seven innings, giving up two runs on six hits, the Red Sox leading 3-2.
Hideki Okajima allowed a leadoff double to David DeJesus in the eighth, then was replaced by Bard (0-1) with one out. The right-hander walked Alberto Callaspo, who was replaced by pinch runner Willie Bloomquist, and struck out Butler to set up the showdown with Ankiel.
Ankiel, who opened the season 2 for 12, took two balls, then squeezed a floater to short left for the go-ahead run and a 4-for-4, three-RBI night.
"They earned the win. They scrapped together a couple of runs when they needed it," said Bard, who had a blown save against the Yankees on Wednesday. "When you make a decent pitch, you hope you get a better result, but it doesn't always happen."
The story of Kansas City's season before this had been pitching.
Starters? They've been just fine.
That's the bullpen's fault.
Kansas City had one of baseball's worst bullpens a year ago, turning nearly every game into a squeeze-your-seat adventure, posting a 5.02 ERA with 22 blown saves.
The Royals didn't just pick up where they left off, they're trying to one-up it: three straight blown saves, a 13.50 ERA, 18 hits and six walks in 9 1/3 innings.
It wasn't exactly pretty, but the Royals ended the string.
Kyle Davies was solid, giving up three runs -- two on Drew's 440-foot blast to center -- on six hits in six innings. Despite Robinson Tejeda's three-strikes-in-15-pitches seventh and some tough at-bats against Soria in the ninth, the bullpen didn't cave, holding Boston without a run over the final three innings to set up Ankiel's winner.
All those boos from the fans? Replaced by cheers, at least for now.
"The negativity and frustration from the fan base, if we're not out there doing our job they have every right to be frustrated," Hillman said. "I told these guys many times, these fans are hungry, better feed them. It's frustrating for them to see inefficiency every night, so that was a big deal for us to win it out of the pen."
Royals RHP Gil Meche (shoulder) threw a bullpen session without any pain and will start Sunday against Boston. ... Boston DH David Ortiz hit a double in the fourth inning to break a 1-for-11 slump, but was ejected in the fifth for arguing a check swing call. ... Royals RHP Kyle Farnsworth got two outs in the seventh, but didn't return because of a sore shoulder.
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