KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Rick Ankiel homered and hit a broken-bat, two-run single off Daniel Bard in the eighth inning Friday night, lifting the Kansas City Royals to a 4-3 win over the struggling Boston Red Sox.
Ankiel followed Billy Butler’s solo homer in the sixth with a solo shot on the next pitch, then jammed a two-out single over shortstop Marco Scutaro’s head in the eighth. Joakim Soria pitched the ninth to break Kansas City’s string of three straight blown saves, after John Parrish (1-0) got an out in the eighth for his first win since June 28, 2008.
Boston’s disappointing start to the season continued with another shaky outing by its bullpen. The Red Sox lost two of three to rival New York in Boston after its relievers allowed six earned runs and walked eight in 12 1-3 innings.
Boston’s bullpen did it again against KC, blowing a strong first start by Tim Wakefield.
It all happened in the eighth.
Wakefield, back from offseason back surgery, baffled Kansas City’s hitters most of the night, allowing the homers to Butler and Ankiel and not much else. He left after seven innings, giving up two runs on six hits.
Hideki Okajima allowed a leadoff double to David DeJesus in the eighth, then was replaced by Bard (0-1) with one out. The right-hander walked Alberto Callaspo, who was replaced by pinch runner Willie Bloomquist, and struck out Butler to set up the showdown with Ankiel.
Kansas City’s new center fielder took two balls, then squeezed a floater to short left for the go-ahead run and a 4-for-4, three-RBI night.
The story of Kansas City’s season before this had been pitching.
Starters? They’ve been just fine.
Zack Greinke, Luke Hochevar and Brian Bannister allowed two earned runs over 19 2-3 innings the first three games. They just don’t have any wins.
That’s the bullpen’s fault.
Kansas City had one of baseball’s worst bullpens a year ago, turning nearly every game into a squeeze-your-seat adventure, posting a 5.02 ERA with 22 blown saves.
The Royals didn’t just pick up where they left off, they’re trying to one-up it: three straight blown saves, a 13.50 ERA, 18 hits and six walks in 9 1-3 innings.
Well, call this one an anomaly.
Kyle Davies was solid, giving up three runs on six hits in six innings. Despite Robinson Tejeda’s three-strikes-in-15-pitches seventh, the bullpen didn’t cave, holding Boston without a run over the final three innings to set up Ankiel’s winner.
NOTES: Royals RHP Gil Meche (shoulder) threw a bullpen session without any pain and will start Sunday against Boston. … Boston DH David Ortiz hit a double in the fourth inning to break a 1-for-11 slump, but was ejected in the fifth for arguing a check swing call.