Red Sox 2, Royals 4: Streaks end as offense goes quiet

Jim Rogash

Ryan Dempster became the first Boston starter to give up more than three runs in an outing, but it's still the Red Sox offense that's to blame for the winning streak coming to an end.

The Red Sox offense went quiet against Ervin Santana and the Kansas City Royals Sunday afternoon, ending the Red Sox' winning streak at seven games.

That was not the only streak that would end, either. Getting the start for the Red Sox was Ryan Dempster, who became the first Red Sox starter to give up as many as four earned runs in an outing this season.

That's not, however, to say Dempster was bad. But he did start shakily. The first batter of the game, Alex Gordon, hit a long fly ball that should have put some fear in Dempster. Apparently it did not, however, as he went right back inside to Alcides Escobar, who cleaned the pitch out for a loud home run, putting the Red Sox in an early hole.

That deficit did not last long at all. Singles from Daniel Nava, Dustin Pedroia, and David Ortiz powered a two-run bottom of the first. Really, it could have been more, but a great diving play from Chris Getz held Mike Napoli to an RBI groundout, and Jarrod Saltalamacchia's line drive ended up going straight to Jeff Francoeur for out number three.

Dempster would get his strikeouts working after the first inning homer, and they almost ended up being enough to save both the starting streak and, quite possibly, the winning streak as well. It was back-to-back strikeouts that had Dempster within one out of escaping a second-and-third, zero outs situation in the fourth. The tying run had already come in, but it was Salvador Perez' soft line drive past a diving Stephen Drew that provided the real difference making third and fourth runs.

Ultimately, though, Dempster was strong enough to go seven innings, and that only by the slimmest of margins. This one lies squarely on the shoulders of an offense which just couldn't find production from the bottom half. The Sox would be held in check by Ervin Santana for seven innings, at first with hard contact and long fly balls that promised better returns later, but those hits never materialized.

The game would come down to two crucial plate appearances with two runners on and two outs in the eighth inning. Aaron Crow came in to relieve Bruce Chen with Mike Napoli at the plate, but just could not find the plate. Napoli took all four pitches, loading the bases, and Jarrod Saltalamacchia took the first two he saw. The third pitch, however, was a borderline strike on the outside part of the plate, and Salty just couldn't lay off it. The catcher took his usual hack, and ended up tapping the ball weakly back to the mound, ending any real hopes of a Boston victory.

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