Royals exhibit patience, cool off Red Sox

Royals exhibit patience, cool off Red Sox

BOSTON -- It was like a walk in the park, Fenway Park that is, for the Royals.

They took advantage of Boston starter Daisuke Matsuzaka's wildness and dealt the Red Sox a 4-3 loss on Thursday night as Fenway's 576th consecutive sellout crowd, 37,940, watched.

Dice-K, who walked eight and hit a batter in 4 2/3 innings, took the loss. Brian Bannister, who walked no one in his six innings, picked up his fourth victory and saw few flaws in the Royals.

"That's how it's supposed to look," Bannister said. "A lot of quality at-bats by our hitters, no mistakes in the field, and I was able to give a quality start and some good arms came out of the 'pen and did their job. That's what it takes to beat a hot team like that."

Perfect arms out of the bullpen -- 1-2-3 innings by Robinson Tejeda in the seventh, Blake Wood in the eighth and Joakim Soria in the ninth. It was Soria's 12th save.

This is from a 'pen that was extraordinarily leaky earlier this season, but this performance of perfection did not surprise Royals manager Ned Yost.

"Not really," Yost said. "I mean Robby's been throwing great, Woody's been throwing great and I feel pretty good every time Soria gets in the game."

Matsuzaka, who pitched 7 2/3 hitless innings in his previous start, this time just couldn't hit the strike zone. The way the Royals began, however, it seemed he might escape his walk on the wild side unscathed.

His fastball command was erratic at best.

"He'd have it for a click, and then he was still powerful," Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek noted. "And then obviously, it would run awry on him."

Two walks in the first inning resulted in nothing. And in the fourth, the Royals loaded the bases with no outs as David DeJesus walked, Billy Butler singled and Jose Guillen was hit by a pitch.

(Statistical note: Guillen has been plunked 139 times in his career, fifth most among active players. The leader? Teammate Jason Kendall with 251.)

But that Royals opportunity ended with two infield liners and a fly ball that were caught.

"I just told 'em when they came in, 'Load 'em up again,' and they did," Yost said.

Sure enough. In the fifth, two walks surrounded a strikeout, and DeJesus knocked in the first run with a single. Butler walked to load 'em up and Guillen walked to force in a run.

"We're sitting at the edge of our seat with the seat belt on," Red Sox manager Terry Francona said.

Alberto Callaspo's bouncer resulted in a force out at the plate, but then Dice-K unleashed a wild pitch and Butler chugged home for a 3-1 lead.

Boston was helped by an unusual happening in scoring a fourth-inning run. With one out and Kevin Youkilis on first, J.D. Drew's bouncer hit second-base umpire Paul Schrieber in the shoulder for a single before it could reach Chris Getz.

"That was bad luck, and then immediately I'm trying to go through my mental rulebook," Bannister said. "Is one guy out? Are both guys safe? I know he gets a hit, but does one guy have to go back to first? Of course, both guys are still out there."

That deprived the Royals of an inning-ending double play in Yost's eyes.

"It was absolutely a double play, Getz was right there," Yost said. "But I told Banny, 'Don't worry about it, that one lucky run is not going to beat you.' "

Adrian Beltre's single got that lucky run home, and the Red Sox made the score 3-2 when Bill Hall led off the fifth with a home run over the Green Monster. And Bannister let in another run in the sixth as Varitek bounced a RBI double off the famous wall in left.

"I got beat by the Men in Black and the Green Monster tonight," Bannister quipped.

But he didn't get beat at all because ex-Royal Joe Nelson, who relieved Matsuzaka, gave up a fourth run in the sixth on Mike Aviles' single and DeJesus' double off the Monster. That gave DeJesus two hits and two RBIs on his first night back from attending the birth of his son, David Jr., in Kansas City.

"David DeJesus had a big night for David Jr. -- the first time he had a chance to watch his dad play -- so that was pretty cool," Yost said.

Yost might have put some imagination into that account, but according to Papa DeJesus, it was true. His wife and 2-day-old David Jr. were in front of the TV.

"Exactly," DeJesus said. "Kim was telling me they were going to watch. So that's pretty cool."

The victory gave the Royals an 8-5 record since Yost took over as manager, and the loss clipped the Red Sox's winning streak at five.

"We knew that they've been hot, but we also feel like we're playing pretty good, too," Yost said. "We feel pretty good about ourselves, and I think it showed tonight."

Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.