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After the Kansas City Royals opened Wednesday night’s game with three runs in the top of the first inning, the Red Sox responded. And as has been the case for much of the year, they did so emphatically. While John Lackey worked through 5.2 innings to get the win, Jacoby Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia hit back-to-back solo homers, David Ortiz added a grand slam, and the Sox collected at least 10 hits for the seventh consecutive game.
A double, an error, a 3-run homer by Eric Hosmer, a single, and another double filled the Royals’ half of the first inning. After 31 pitches, it looked to be another long night (or rather, short night) for a Sox starter. But momentum shifted in the bottom of the inning when Ellsbury and Pedroia homered off Royals starter, and former Red Sox pitcher, Bruce Chen. It was Ellsbury’s 17th and Pedroia’s 14th as the two continue to have monster months. Pedroia also extended his hitting streak to 24 games with the jack, a new record for Red Sox second basemen.
In the bottom of the second, Marco Scutaro singled, Darnell McDonald walked, and Yamaico Navarro singled to load the bases. Chen walked Ellsbury to force in a run, Pedroia hit a sac fly, and Navarro scored on Adrian Gonzalez‘s ground out to make it 5-3 Red Sox. But Boston was far from over.
In the fourth, Mcdonald doubled and scored on Navarro’s single. Ellsbury reached on a fielder’s choice, and then Pedroia singled, but Ellsbury was caught rounding third too aggressively. Gonzalez and Kevin Youkilis singled before Ortiz crushed a grand slam over the bullpen, his 20th homer of the season. On the play, Papi also collected his 1000th RBI as a member of the Red Sox. He joins Ted Williams, Bobby Doerr, Carl Yastrzemski, Jim Rice, and Dwight Evans as the only players to do so.
Ellsbury doubled in the bottom of the sixth, and Pedroia followed with a single. Gonzalez then drove in Ellsbury for the 11th Sox run of the night. In the eighth, Gonzalez also drove in the 12th and final run for the Sox, giving him his ML leading 87th RBI, and raising his ML leading batting average to .351.
Meanwhile, Lackey pitched better after the first inning, even retiring eight in a row at one point. But in the fifth, he allowed a solo homer to Billy Butler, a double, a walk, and a single before getting out of the inning with 98 total pitches on the night. In the sixth, he got two outs and yielded a double and a single before giving way to Randy Williams, who got the final out of the inning.
The Royals scored their fifth run in the eighth inning when Hosmer singled off Dan Wheeler to score Alex Gordon. Wheeler came on to pitch the final 1.2 innings, and the Sox finished off the Royals by a score of 12-5.
John Lackey (9-8) earned the win, while Bruce Chen (5-4), allowing 10 runs, got the loss. The Red Sox improved to 64-38 on the year, and coupled with the Yankees’ loss to the Seattle Mariners, they moved three games ahead of New York in the AL East. The Royals dropped to 43-61.
The Sox are 18-4 in July, the best record in baseball….Youkilis was not in the original starting lineup, after injuring his hamstring Tuesday night, but he convinced Terry Francona that he was healthy enough to play….Navarro started in left field, fueling speculation that the Sox might have been showing him off to other teams looking to trade….In July, Pedroia is hitting .423 with 7 HR, 18 RBI, and 25 R. Ellsbury is hitting .413 with 8 HR, 20 RBI and 23 R. They have both realistically entered the MVP race, while forming the most devastating 1-2 in baseball….Ortiz is the sixth player to drive in 1000 RBI with the Red Sox and is also the second quickest to do so, accomplishing the feat in 1237 games. The quickest was Ted Williams, who did it in his 1136th game….In his last four starts, Lackey is 4-0 with a 2.52 ERA. On the surface, that’s great, but he also has a 1.40 WHIP in that span, suggesting he’s been fairly lucky getting out of jams.