By Joe Haggerty
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By Joe Haggerty
KANSAS CITY Its beginning to look like Kansas City was the perfect place for the road weary Red Sox to start catching their breath.
For the second straight night the Sox received quality pitching and steady offense, and for the second straight night the Sox took home a road win this time a 7-1 victory over the Royals at Kauffman Stadium.
The victory allowed the Sox to keep pace with the Yankees and remain a game back in the AL East standings.
The Sox offense was paced by a three-run Jarrod Saltalamacchia home run to deep left field on an 0-2 pitch in the top of the fifth inning off Royals lefty Jeff Francis, who will forever be linked to the ill-advised security stop of Dustin Pedroia at Coors field during the 2007 World Series. The three-run bomb by Saltalamacchia means the Sox backstop will also have a ready made line if he ever has a problem getting into the Kansas City ballpark.
Saltalamacchias home run drove the game out of reach, and allowed spot starter Andrew Miller plenty of room to work with.
Miller was simply effective in his first start since July 31 and allowed only three hits and a single run in 5 13 impressive innings before handing the ball off to Alfredo Aceves. The Sox righty finished out the final 3 23 scoreless innings for his second save of the year to go along with eight wins.
Miller and Aceves combined to hold a strong Royals offense to only four hits on the evening and virtually no sniff of offense after threatening early in the game.
Aside from Saltalamacchia and Miller, Sox first baseman Adrian Gonzalez busted out of an 0-for-14 slump over the last four games with a three hit performance after shaving off his goatee prior to Friday nights tilt against the Royals. The Sox offense pounded out 13 hits and five extra base knocks and served notice that they should be just fine without Kevin Youkilis and David Ortiz for the next couple of weeks.
Ryan Lavarnway even chipped in with his first big league hit to right field after leaving the bases loaded in both the first and third innings when it was still a scoreless ballgame.
The Royals actually scrapped for the first run in the bottom of the third frame against Miller, but it was all Sox against Francis and the Kansas City bullpen after the third inning.
Player of the Game: Andrew Miller didnt show any rust despite being out of the Sox starting rotation since July 31, and instead held down a strong Royals offense to three hits and a single run in 5 13 innings of work. Miller improved to 5-1 this season for the Sox and appeared to turn a corner after making some mechanical tweaks to his delivery during a bullpen session with Curt Young several days ago. It may be awhile before Miller makes another start for the Sox, but he gave the rotation a much-needed day of rest while pushing all of the other starters back one additional day.
Honorable Mention: Adrian Gonzalez snapped an 0-for-14 slump with a double in the top of the first inning, and collected three hits to add to his Major League leading total of 172 hits. Gonzalez also spiked his batting average back up to .346 while creating a little bit of space between himself and Texas Rangers slugger Michael Young in the process. Gonzalez said his timing felt a little better in Fridays win than it had in the previous days, but hes still not feeling all the way back to himself quite yet.
The Goat: Jeff Francis will forever be the punch line to one of the great Dustin Pedroia stories of all time from the 2007 World Series, and he once again couldnt get through the Sox offense as a member of the Kansas City Royals. He allowed 11 hits and five earned runs to a Sox offense without Kevin Youkilis or David Ortiz, and served up a changeup to Jarrod Saltalamacchia that the Sox catcher took deep over the left field wall.
Turning Point: Darnell McDonald has struggled mightily with his bat this season, but he cracked his first triple of the season in the fourth inning to knock in Carl Crawford as the tying run. The three-base hit ended with McDonald scoring on a Jacoby Ellsbury sacrifice fly, and took away all of Kansas Citys momentum following their first run of the game.
By the Numbers: .378 Jed Lowries batting average against left-handed pitching (31-for-82) this season after collecting three hits in Bostons Friday night win over the Royals.
Quote of Note: I didnt even see where it went. I hit it good and I knew if I hit it to that part of the park it was gonna be gone. I was just running at point I was jogging. Sox catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia talking about his mammoth three-run homer over everything in left field in the fifth frame that put the game out of reach.