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Matsuzaka Shaky as Sox Fall to Royals 4-3

Boston Red Sox starter Daisuke Matsuzaka follows through as he delivers against the Kansas City Royals during the first inning of a baseball game at Fenway Park in Boston, Thursday, May 27, 2010. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

In his first start since nearly no-hitting the Phillies, Daisuke Matsuzaka looked as if he might be making another march toward the feat. While he did not allow a hit until the fourth inning, it was the fifth inning that proved to be his unraveling in a 4-3 loss to the Royals.

Matsuzaka (3-2) walked a career high five batters in the fifth inning alone, adding a wild pitch and a hit batter. David Dejesus singled in a run, contributing to a three-run outburst. Matsuzaka was lucky the bleeding stopped there as Terry Francona called upon reliever Joe Nelson to shut down K.C.

Brian Bannister pitched well for the visitors, allowing three runs on nine hits with three strikeouts. The win was his third straight and his first in five tries against Boston. DeJesus struck again, adding his second RBI of the night when he doubled off the left field wall to drive home Mike Aviles in the sixth.

Any concerns that were tempered by Matsuzaka’s last start were resurrected with his shaky effort on Thursday.

“I don’t know what the answer is, but we will continue to try and figure it out,” Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek told The Boston Globe. “He was obviously struggling with his command.”

Varitek makes it sound minor, but for anyone who was watching, it was a close to a meltdown as a pitcher can have. To struggle with command is to assume that it is there in the first place. When Matsuzaka took the mound in the fifth, it was long gone. The start continued the trend of up-and-down performances by many of the Red Sox big money pitchers, including Josh Beckett and John Lackey.

J.D. Drew accounted for a third of Boston’s hits with three, and Bill Hall homered in the fifth.

The loss halted Boston’s five-game winning streak.

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