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On a night full of opportunity, the Red Sox fell apart in Kansas City, losing 9-4 on Saturday. The loss hurt in different ways, most notably because it looked as if Boston was in line to get Tim Wakefield his 200th career win. Despite building a solid 4-1 lead, an eight-run sixth inning from the great Royals lineup ruined any hope for a historic night for the knuckleballer. The loss also cost the Red Sox an opportunity in the standings, as a horrid outing from A.J. Burnett led to a Yankees loss in Minnesota. Boston remains just a half game behind New York in the American League East.
The Red Sox failed to score in the first two innings despite a leadoff walk to Marco Scutaro and lots of pitches from the erratic Felipe Paulino. Wakefield worked around singles in each of the first two innings against Kansas City, keeping the game scoreless heading for the third.
Ryan Lavarnway led off the third with a walk, and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Then an infield single on a great bunt by Darnell McDonald set up Scutaro with first and third, but he hit into a double play and the Sox only managed the one run in what looked to be a potentially big inning.
In the bottom of the third, the Royals got a leadoff single from Alcides Escobar on a line drive up the middle. After a ground out that advanced him to second and an infield pop up, the Royals got to Wakefield with an RBI double by Billy Butler, tying the game at one.
The Red Sox opened the fourth inning with consecutive singles to center field from Dustin Pedroia and Josh Reddick. After a strikeout by Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Carl Crawford delivered with an RBI single to center field, giving the Sox a 2-1 lead. A sharply hit infield single by Lavarnway loaded the bases for McDonald, who hit a sacrifice fly to right. After a four pitch walk to Scutaro loaded the bases, third baseman Mike Aviles flew out to end the threat. The damage was done though as the Sox took a 3-1 lead and raised the shaky Paulino’s pitch count to 79.
Adrian Gonzalez flew out deep to left field to begin the fifth inning. It was the second time he drove the ball deep at Kauffman Stadium, each time resulting in outs. A nasty called third strike to Pedroia and first pitch out to Reddick ended a quick and much needed seven-pitch inning from Paulino against the middle of the Boston order.
In the bottom of the fifth, Wakefield got the first two batters before Alex Gordon hit a double to right-center. Reddick attempted to make an awkward diving catch for the ball, appearing to slightly back off as the center fielder McDonald approached as well, with the ball falling in. A ground out by Melky Cabrera ended the inning though and Wakefield maintained the 3-1 lead.
After two strikeouts against Paulino, Saltalamacchia switched things up with a leadoff double in the sixth. Crawford then hit a drive to left, but right at the left fielder Gordon preventing Saltalamacchia from advancing. Rookie call up Lavarnway then delivered his first career RBI on a single to center, with Saltalamacchia scoring on a close play at home plate. The run gave Tim Wakefield a 4-1 lead heading for the bottom half of the inning.
Butler had given Wakefield fits with two hits earlier in the game, but Wakefield struck him out to begin the bottom of the sixth. Eric Hosmer followed with a hard hit single up the middle just by the dive of Scutaro, giving the Royals exactly one hit in each of the six innings to that point in the game. However the Kansas City offense finally got to Wakefield, as both Jeff Francoeur and Mike Moustakas followed with RBI doubles, chasing Wakefield from the game and leaving the Sox bullpen the task of holding the 4-3 lead and his 200th win.
First out of the pen was Matt Albers, who walked catcher Salvador Perez with one out. Chris Getz then delivered the big hit with an RBI single to right, just scoring Moustakas from second who avoided the Saltalamacchia tag at home. The run was charged to Wakefield who would no longer be eligible to pick up the win, meaning #200 remains on hold. After a deep fly out to right by Escobar, Gordon doubled deep into the left-center gap, scoring two more runs to give the Royals a 6-4 lead. Cabrera then followed with an RBI single to right, advancing to second on the throw by Reddick. Albers’ last batter was Butler, who was intentionally walked. Frankin Morales came in with little success, allowing a two-run triple to Hosmer before Francouer struck out to finally end the eight-run disaster of an inning.
The Royals removed the starter Paulino and got a scoreless inning of relief from Blake Wood who worked around a two-out single from Pedroia in the 7th. Morales followed with a 1-2-3 bottom half for the Sox sending the game into the 8th with the Royals leading 9-4.
Southpaw Tim Collins was called upon to face the bottom of the Red Sox order in the top of the 8th. After a Saltalamacchia strikeout, Crawford singled for the second time, chasing Collins from the game and bringing in Royals righty Greg Holland, who got both Lavarnway and McDonald on fly ball outs to end the inning.
After Dan Wheeler kept the Royals scoreless in the 8th, the Sox needed to get to Holland in the 9th to have any chance. Scutaro flew out to begin the inning, followed by a ground ball out by Aviles. As an exclamation point on the loss, Adrian Gonzalez struck out to end the game, going 0-5 for the third time this season (second time this month). Gonzalez is now 3-22 in the last six games against Tampa Bay and Kansas City, with all three hits coming last night. Despite two long drives to the outfield on Saturday night, his home run drought also continues with no home runs this month.
In the end though it was the eight-run sixth inning that gave the Royals the win, mainly due to the struggles of reliever Matt Albers, who has now allowed 11 runs in 8.0 innings of work in the month of August. This time his struggles costed Tim Wakefield a chance at earning his 200th win. Wakefield is scheduled to pitch next against the Texas Rangers in Arlington where he has struggled throughout his career. The Red Sox will turn to Jon Lester on Sunday afternoon to try and take three out of four against Kansas City.