Red Sox new faces beat Royals, 8-6

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Red Sox new faces beat Royals, 8-6

BOSTON This was certainly not the lineup manager Bobby Valentine envisioned in spring training. But it was good enough to take a win, 8-6, from the Royals Sunday afternoon at Fenway Park.

Pedro Beato, who was called up from Triple-A Pawtucket before the game to make his Red Sox debut, earned the win. He went two innings (plus three batters), giving up two runs on three hits and a walk with two strikeouts.

Left-hander Felix Doubront returned from the disabled to make the start. He was not involved in the decision, going five innings, giving up four runs on six hits and two walks with seven strikeouts and a home run. His threw 98 pitches, 67 strikes, as his ERA rose from 4.70 to 4.79.

Mark Melancon pitched a scoreless ninth for his first save of the season.

The Sox got a run in the first as Pedro Ciriaco led off with a single to right, took third on Dustin Pedroias double, and scored on Cody Ross single to left.

They added another in the second when Mauro Gomez walked with one out and scored on Mike Aviles double.

In the fourth, though, the Royals took the lead, sending eight batters to the plate, with four scoring. The Royals did all their damage in the inning with two outs, as five consecutive batters reached on three singles, a Lorenzo Cain three-run home run into the Monster seats, and a walk.

The Sox tied the game in the fifth. Pedro Ciriaco hit his second home run of the season. Jacoby Ellsbury followed with a single, taking second on Dustin Pedroias groundout, stealing third and scoring on newcomer James Loneys single to center.

The Sox took back the lead in the sixth. Gomez led off by reaching on an error by shortstop Alcides Escobar, going to third on Mike Aviles single to left and scoring when Ellsbury's liner glanced off first baseman Eric Hosmers glove for a single.

The Sox added two runs in the seventh off reliever Jeremy Jeffress. With two outs and the bases loaded, Escobars second error of the game, on Scott Podsedniks grounder allowed Ross (single to center) to score and Ciriacos single to third scored Ryan Lavarnway, who had singled to right.

Beato left with the bases loaded in the eighth. Craig Breslow, who replaced him, allowed two of the three inherited runners to score.

Dustin Pedroias 12th home run of the season, leading off the eighth, gave the Sox an insurance run.

McAdam: Red Sox at a loss after excruciating defeat

McAdam: Red Sox at a loss after excruciating defeat

There are still two full months of games left on the schedule and who knows what might happen in that time, or what else might befall the Red Sox.

But for now, it's no stretch to suggest that Thursday's excruciating 2-1 setback in Anaheim constitutes the worst loss of the season to date. The point hardly seems debatable.

Consider:

THE TIMING: This was the start of the longest, and in many ways, most challenging road trip of the season, with 11 games in 11 days. It comes immediately after a homestand that was highly disappointing, featuring a mere split with the last-place Minnesota Twins and a sweep at the hands of the otherwise mediocre Detroit Tigers.

There's been a great deal of attention focused on how many road games the Sox have to play through the rest of the season. Winning the opener -- and snapping a three-game losing streak in the process - would have felt like a strong statement that the club was ready and able to meet the challenges of the schedule.

THE STARTING PITCHER: The loss wiped out a standout performance by David Price, who may well hold the key to whether the Red Sox grab a playoff spot this fall.

Price has been woefully inconsistent in his first season with the Red Sox, alternating between brief stretches of dominance and periods of underwhelming outings.

For a change Thursday night, Price seemed on the verge of winning one of those "statement'' games, when he would make one measly run in the third inning stand up. There have been too many times, given his standing as the team's No. 1 starter, in which Price has pitched just well enough to lose -- like the pitcher's duels in which he came up short against the likes of Madison Bumgarner and Chris Tillman.

But on Thursday, Price didn't buckle. And never mind that he was matched against an aging and depleted Jered Weaver. Price had next-to-nothing with which to work, but he protected the 1-0 lead with a determination he has seldon shown in Boston.

And for his effort to go wasted sets an inauspicious marker for this demanding trip. There was something symbolic about having Price set the tone at the start with a low-scoring, must-have game.

He did his part. Unfortunately for Price, that wasn't enough.

THE WAY IN WHICH IT HAPPENED: Walk-off losses are never pleasant, whether they come on a homer, or a base hit up the middle.

But considering that the Red Sox had the ability to turn Daniel Nava's tapper to first into a game-ending double play, and instead, saw it result in a two-run throwing error on the part of Hanley Ramirez, makes it all the more crushing.

Brad Ziegler, who gave up a go-ahead game-winning homer in the final game of the homestand Wednesday, essentially did his job in the ninth. He got Mike Trout to hit a chopper, which resulted in an infield single. And he kept the ball on the ground and in the infield, with the Sox bringing the infield in with the bases loaded and one out.

Better execution, and the Red Sox walk away with a thrilling 1-0 victory to begin their West Coast trek. Instead, they walk off the field, heads down, with the wrong precedent being set.