Ross, Cook power Red Sox past Braves in Youkilis' send-off, 9-4

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Ross, Cook power Red Sox past Braves in Youkilis' send-off, 9-4

BOSTON Cody Ross hit two home runs and knocked in five, and Aaron Cook returned from the disabled list to earn his first win of the season as the Sox beat the Braves 9-4 Sunday afternoon at Fenway Park.

Ross three-run home run into the Monster seats, scoring Dustin Pedroia and Will Middlebrooks, keyed a four-run fourth inning when Adrian Gonzalez, the next batter, followed with his sixth home run of the season. It was the third time the Sox hit back-to-back home runs this season, and the first time since May 19.

Ross, who went 2-for-4 with two runs scored, followed his first homer with a two-run shot in fifth, scoring Daniel Nava. His five RBI match the second-highest total of his career, and the most since he had five on June 2, 2009.

The largest cheers of the day, however, were saved for Kevin Youkilis. When he took the batters' box for his first at-bat in the second inning, he was given a standing ovation with fans realizing that Sunday might be Youkilis' last game as a member of the Red Sox.

In the seventh inning, Youkilis' last at-bat resulted in a surreal Fenway Park moment.

With two outs and Gonzalez on first, Kevin Youkilis hit an RBI triple to right-center. After he reached third base, manager Bobby Valentine lifted him for pinch-runner Nick Punto. The pair exchanged a hug on the field, and as Youkilis went to the dugout he saluted the Fenway crowd, exchanged more hugs in the dugout, and came out for a curtain call.

Though Youkilis had not yet been officially dealt by the Red Sox, with trade rumors hovering over Youkilis in recent weeks, Boston used the opportunity to say goodbye.

Cook went five innings, giving up three runs, two earned, on six hits, with no walks and no strikeouts. He threw 79 pitches, 48 for strikes.

Mike Minor took the loss for the Braves, falling to 3-6. He went 4 23 innings, giving up seven runs, four earned on six hits, three walks, four strikeouts and three home runs.

Bryan Holaday: David Price 'takes a lot of pride in what he does'

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Bryan Holaday: David Price 'takes a lot of pride in what he does'

BOSTON -- There have been a significant amount of question marks surrounding David Price throughout his inaugural season with the Boston Red Sox.

Is he an ace? Is he mentally tough enough? Can he handle Boston?

Just to name a few.

Much like any player imported to Boston, the claim “He can’t handle the pressure in Boston” arises every so often.

And Price hasn’t always been his own best friend, frequently relying on the line “It’s me going out there and making pitches,” in addition to the claim that he’s never satisfied.

Price’s mellow demeanor isn’t something Boston fans are accustomed to -- they prefer Rick Porcello snarling at opponents.

Sometimes it might have seemed as if he lacked a killer instinct or didn’t have a sense of urgency, but Bryan Holaday, who played with Price in Detroit, has seen that’s not the case.

‘I’m sure he [pressing], it’s the nature of this game,” Holaday said about Price’s struggles earlier in the season. “Everybody wants to be at their best all the time and it’s not easy to do.”

However, he says that knowing full well that Price won’t display those emotions -- to anyone.

“He does such a good job on the mental side of things that even if he was, you wouldn’t be able to tell,” Holaday said before Price’s start Saturday night. “He’s never going to express anything like that. If he was [pressing], it’s nothing that anyone would be able to notice.”

There’s a lot to be said for that, too. Although baseball is driven on analytics, there’s no question that mental game is crucial, especially in the clubhouse. And a fly on the wall can easily see that Price’s presence is not only respected, but enjoyed by his teammates in the clubhouse.

“Everyday he gets up he wants to get better and that’s what makes him so good,” Holaday said. “He has that drive to be better everyday and come out and do his job. He takes a lot of pride in what he does and works his ass off. That’s why he is who he is. Any pitcher at that level, you don’t get that way by luck.”

Price may never be Boston’s favorite pitcher.

He may never be the “ace” in everyone’s eyes.

But based on Holday’s interpretations from his time in Detroit and Boston, Price will work hard to turn his first few months with the Red Sox into a minor footnote of his career.

Saturday's Red Sox-Royals lineups: Young in LF, Hill at 3B vs. KC lefty Duffy

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Saturday's Red Sox-Royals lineups: Young in LF, Hill at 3B vs. KC lefty Duffy

The Red Sox look to end their three-game losing streak tonight when the play the middle game of their three-game series with the Kansas City Royals at Fenway Park.

Against Royals' left-hander Danny Duffy (11-1, 2.66 ERA), the Red Sox start right-handed hitters Chris Young in left field and Aaron Hill at third base. Duffy has won his past 10 decisions and came into Saturday with the fifth-best ERA in the American League. He joined the rotation from the bullpen on June 1.

Left-hander David Price (12-8, 4.00) gets the start for the Red Sox. Price has won his past three decisions, going eight, six and eight innings and not allowing more than three runs in each start. 

The Royals won the series opener 6-3 Friday night.

The lineups:

ROYALS
Paulo Orlando CF
Cheslor Cuthbert 3B
Lorenzo Cain RF
Eric Hosmer 1B
Kendrys Morales DH
Salvador Perez C
Alex Gordon LF
Alcides Escobar SS
Christian Colon 2B
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Danny Duffy LHP

RED SOX
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Xander Bogaerts SS
David Ortiz DH
Mookie Betts RF
Hanley Ramirez 1B
Sandy Leon C
Chris Young LF
Aaron Hill 3B
Jackie Bradley Jr. CF
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David Price LHP