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Royals 4, Red Sox 3: Sox Come Up Just Short, Royals Force Series Split

The Red Sox fell to the Royals 3-4 Thursday, as Kansas City forced a series split by getting to Josh Beckett in the fourth inning.

Both starting pitchers came out of the gates hot, with Luke Hochevar allowing just a single in his first two innings while Beckett struck out four men in his first three frames. The bottom of the Red Sox’ lineup would get to Hochevar in the third, however, with Jason Varitek and Yamaico Navarro both reaching base and scoring on Jacoby Ellsbury’s line drive single to right field.

Facing a 2-0 deficit, the Royals battled back against Josh Beckett in the fourth. Alex Gordon and and Mitch Maier each battled Beckett to full counts before finally drawing walks. So, when Billy Butler launched a 1-2 fastball deep to center field and onto the batter’s eye, it ended up being worth three runs and the lead. The Royals pushed across a fourth run on a poor play by Drew Sutton, making a rare outfield appearance with Carl Crawford on the bench after receiving a cortisone shot in his elbow.

From there, the Sox offense went curiously dead against Luke Hochevar much as it had against Kyle Davies on Monday, leaving the Kansas City starter free to go seven innings, leaving with his 4-2 lead still intact. The Sox did strike once against the bullpen, as Dustin Pedroia extended his hitting streak and brought the Sox within one as he slammed his 15th homer of the year over the Monster in the eighth. But a long ninth-inning drive from a pinch-hitting Carl Crawford with a man on base was knocked down on the track by the wind in the deepest part of right field, and the Sox fell 4-3.

This is only the Red Sox’ fifth loss in July, and the first series in the month that they didn’t win outright.