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Royals can't solve Red Sox rookie

Royals can't solve Red Sox rookie

BOSTON -- Nothing doing. Not against Kason Gabbard, the Boston Red Sox rookie left-hander.

Gabbard not only held the Royals hitless for 4 1/3 innings, but he kept them scoreless all Monday night in a 4-0 victory for another sellout, 37,099 fans, at Fenway Park.

"You've got to score more than zero runs to win. You think?" observed manager Buddy Bell wryly.

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Gabbard allowed just three singles.

"It's not a ton," weighed in the Royals' Mark Teahen.

This game began as a battle of rookie pitchers. Gabbard and the Royals' Brian Bannister had been teammates in 2004 in the Arizona Fall League.

So there was at least a friendly wave when they began pregame warmups.

For three innings, Bannister was nearly as tough as Gabbard. After eight outs, Julio Lugo reached first base on a disputed call. The Royals thought that Tony Pena Jr.'s strong throw from the hole had retired Lugo. No matter, because Bannister quickly picked him off.

In the fourth inning, though, Dustin Pedroia reached up for a 3-2 pitch and hoisted a drive up over the Green Monster in left. One out later, Manny Ramirez slugged a 2-1 pitch over the famous wall.

"I threw a fastball down the middle," Bannister said. "It was the worst pitch I threw all night."

Bannister had been excited about his first start in historic Fenway, but watching balls fly over the Monster was not the sort of sight-seeing he had in mind.

And, in the sixth inning, Pedroia singled and David Ortiz whistled a two-run homer around the fabled foul pole in right field.

"I got my first taste of the Pesky Pole," Bannister said.

With one out in the fifth inning, Emil Brown finally got the Royals' first hit, a roller into right field. A walk and a hit batter loaded the bases, but Pena bounced out.

Gabbard rolled on. Brown got another single in the seventh and Reggie Sanders, pinch-hitting for Alex Gordon, lined a single in the eighth.

"I was trying to jump on anything he put in the zone," Brown said.

Gabbard earned his complete game -- the first of his pro career -- by striking out both Mark Grudzielanek and Teahen in the ninth. That gave him eight strikeouts.

"His offspeed stuff changes planes and it keeps you off-balance. It's tough to be aggressive," Teahen said.

The nine-inning shutout was the first for a Red Sox rookie since Paul Quantrill did it July 4, 1993, at Seattle. No left-handed Red Sox rookie had done it since John Curtis on Sept. 10, 1972, at Cleveland.

"He attacked the strike zone right from the very first inning," said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. "He got them in the swing mode which you have to do."

The loss gave the Royals a 1-3 record on a nine-game trip that includes American League hot spots Cleveland, Boston and Detroit. This is a telling test of the Royals' recent improvement in the victory column.

"We have to play well, no doubt about it," Bell said. "We have to play better than we did tonight. Our approach offensively has to be better than it has been in a while. And we've got to get innings out of our rotation. If we do that, we're going to be OK."

Bell did get six innings from Bannister and the other two innings from Neal Musser, who's due to be optioned to Triple-A Omaha on Tuesday. So Bell will have a full complement of relievers to back up stand-in starter Leo Nunez.

Now if he can just get his hitters to do something.

No matter how you look at it, zero adds up to nothing.

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

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