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Royals 4, Red Sox 3: Sox can't back up sub-par John Lackey

John Lackey was not at his best, and the Red Sox offense once again failed to come alive in support, leaving him and the Sox losers in Kansas City.

Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

John Lackey was not at his best, and the Red Sox lineup provided their usual mediocre support for their de facto ace, leaving the Royals 4-3 winners, and 3-1 winners in the series in Kansas City.

John Lackey being at less than his best is not the most surprising turn of events given the ankle injury he suffered in his last outing, but even without his best control, Lackey was still capable of keeping the Red Sox in the game, if not winning it for them. Walks to the first two batters he faced would be the only ones Lackey offered up all game long, and a double play ball quickly erased on of them. Still, Lackey would give up a line drive single to Alex Gordon, and it was only a matter of placement and Jacoby Ellsbury that kept Salvador Perez' line drive from making the inning worse.

Lackey would not be able to prevent a multi-run inning in the second, however. A leadoff double from Mike Moustakas and singles from Jarrod Dyson and David Lough--neither one that hard hit, but both damaging all the same--gave the Royals another pair of runs and put Lackey in danger of a true disaster outing.

The disaster would never really come, however, even after Alex Gordon made it four runs in three innings with a long homer to right field. If Lackey was never exactly dominant over the next four innings, he managed to get outs, and survived a rough sixth inning to ultimately finish the night with seven frames of four-run ball. Not his usual quality, but also not nearly so bad as it could have been.

Unfortunately, the Red Sox lineup had done their damnedest to waste every chance available to them. Shane Victorino's one-out double in the first was only converted into a run by virtue of a stolen base and a throwing error from Kansas City catcher Salvador Perez. Double plays erased baserunners in each of the second and third innings, and the top of the order failed to so much as advance Ryan Lavarnway and Will MIddlebrooks after the pair had reached base to start the top of the fifth.

Finally, in the sixth, the Red Sox would make good, with Ryan Lavarnway ripping a single down the left field line, plating both Daniel Nava and Stephen Drew, and bringing the Red Sox within a run. That final hurdle, however, would be one the Sox could not overcome, and in fact, barely even threatened to. James Shields, Tim Collins, Aaron Crow, and Greg Holland combined to hold the Red Sox to just the one baserunner--Jonny Gomes, who drew a walk against Crow--in the final three innings, leaving them still behind by one after the final out in the ninth.

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