KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) – It looked like it might be a short night for Jon Lester.
Bruce Chen outdueled Lester as the Kansas City Royals defeated the Boston Red Sox 5-1 on Thursday night.
Lester (10-7), who came into the game with a 6-2 record and 1.64 ERA in nine starts against the Royals, needed 41 pitches in the first inning when Kansas City sent eight men to the plate and scored three runs. That was his only rough inning of the seven he lasted.
“Obviously it was a long first, a lot of pitches,” Lester said. “I knew I had to somehow grind my way through it and get seven, save the bullpen. That’s something you have to learn to do, to find a way in those outings to go six or seven or maybe eight, and I was able to do that.
“My stuff was the same (after the first inning). I was able to pitch out of some jams.”
Jonny Gomes’ fielding error on Alex Gordon’s fly to left made two of the runs unearned. Lorenzo Cain, who opened the inning a double, scored on Gomes’ misplay.
“Stuff like that happens,” Lester said. “I’ve got to do a better job of picking up Jonny. I loaded the bases on a four-pitch walk (to Justin Maxwell). I’ve got to do a better job containing that situation and not letting them get those other two.
“If they don’t get those other two maybe Chen pitches a little differently and things turn out different.”
Gomes said he was setting up to throw to the plate when he slipped on Gordon’s routine fly.
“I picked the ball up perfect,” Gomes said. “With a runner on third and less than two out I wanted to get in throwing position and just slipped. A big chunk of the ground came up and I couldn’t recover.”
Mike Moustakas’ two-out single to right with the bases loaded scored Billy Butler and Gordon to make it 3-0.
Rubby De La Rosa replaced Lester in the eighth and Butler hit his first pitch out to center for his 10th home run. Maxwell homered with two outs to make it 5-0.
Chen, who was making his fifth start since beginning the season in the bullpen, did not allow a runner past first base until the eighth and retired 11 in a row in one stretch. He gave up five singles, walked one and struck out two before leaving with two outs in the eighth inning.
“It’s not how hard you throw but where,” Gomes said. “He got it in on our hands. He throws three pitches six miles per hour different. He can throw the fastball 88 or 82 and the curve is 74.
“He just stayed on the edges. With the slower he threw them there wasn’t a whole lot of pitches over the plate. If you’re left-handed and throw strikes in this game there’s life for you.”
Luke Hochevar got the final four outs for his second career save.
Lester, who was roughed up for six runs and 11 hits in 4 1-3 innings by Arizona in his previous start, shut down the Royals after the first, allowing just two more singles in seven innings.
Stephen Drew, who had two hits to extend his hitting streak to a season high nine games, singled home Gomes in the ninth for the only Red Sox run.
The Royals won for the 16th time in 20 games since the All-Star break. The Red Sox, who have the best record in the American League, lost for only the third time in 10 games.
Notes: The Royals optioned LHP Danny Duffy to Triple-A Omaha and purchased the contract of LHP Francisley Bueno from their Pacific Coast League affiliate. … Daniel Nava came off the paternity leave list and started at first base for the Red Sox, who optioned RHP Steven Wright to Triple-A Pawtucket. … DH David Ortiz, who had started 95 games, was not in the Red Sox lineup. “It’s not injury related,” manager John Farrell said. “It’s just a day. Truth be told, we’d expected more off days overall than he has been.” … Red Sox RHP Clay Buchholz, who went on the disabled list June 18 with a neck strain, is scheduled to throw 25-30 pitches off the mound Friday. .The Red Sox dropped to 24-38 when their opponent scores first.
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