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Red Sox 5, Royals 2: David Price plays stopper

The Sox needed Price to stop a short skid and avoid the sweep, and the resurgent ace came through.

Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Facing a sweep at the hands of Kansas City, the Red Sox turned to their ace to play stopper, and their ace responded.

David Price's ERA remains awfully high at 5.53, but after a second straight start where he's looked exactly like the ace that was expected, it feels like time to start calling him one again. He was, for much of the game, tasked with holding a small lead. Jackie Bradley Jr. had given him one run to work with in the second, extending his hit streak to 24 games in his very first at bat by crushing his seventh homer of the year. One inning later, and it was Boston's other young star outfielder in Mookie Betts finding the distance to make it 2-0.

That was all they would give Price for a bit, with a first-inning rally having fallen short despite putting a man on third with one out. And whether Price would be able to manage that wasn't always so clear. The Royals saw Kendrys Morales lead off the second inning with a double into the gap, threatening to tie the game in a hurry. But Price got two quick fly balls to left, then sat down Omar Infante to end the frame. Paulo Orlando provided them another leadoff baserunner to start the third, but then, too, the Royals went down quickly behind him.

They would only manage to break through against Price in the fourth, when Salvador Perez briefly brought the Royals within a run of the Sox by jumping on a first-pitch fastball from Price and launching a solo shot to center. But while Price seemed to be on the verge of some real trouble in the fifth, walking Orlando and giving up a single to Whit Merrifield, he rebounded with a couple ground balls to end the threat.

The Red Sox finally would give their ace some more breathing room in the sixth, putting together a two out rally to bring Jackie Bradley Jr. to the plate with two men in scoring position. But given how hot Bradley has been, and with Christian Vazquez behind him, the Royals elected to give him first for free and pitch to the catcher. Said catcher made them pay, getting ahead 2-0 and taking advantage when Edinson Volquez was absolutely forced to throw him a strike, singling back up the middle to put the Sox ahead 4-1.

Boston would add a fifth run in the eighth when Josh Rutledge scored on a Vazquez ground out, which made it that much less important when David Price finally gave up a second run in the bottom of the inning, with Alcides Escobar doubling as John Farrell tried to get an eighth inning out of his starter. Junichi Tazawa would give up the RBI single before Mookie Betts caught Lorenzo Cain wandering too far off first on a fly ball to right, doubling him up to end the frame. Another double play let Craig Kimbrel erase a leadoff baserunner in the ninth, and Cheslor Cuthbert struck out to end the game with a Red Sox win.

It wasn't the most garish of performances by David Price, but it was strong, and exactly what was needed as the Red Sox found themselves scuffling in Kansas City. When the alternative is a sweep, a 1-2 record starts to look like a big deal indeed.