KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Chris Sale shut down the Kansas City Royals while pitching into the ninth inning, and a rag-tag bunch of Boston Red Sox filling in for injured starters pounded their way to an 8-3 victory Tuesday night that moved them into first place in the AL East.
Sale (9-3) gave up a homer to Mike Moustakas in the second and a two-run shot to Jorge Bonifacio in the ninth before departing two outs shy of his second consecutive complete game. He allowed four hits and fanned 10, pushing his major league-leading strikeout total to 146 this season.
More importantly, he got a win after going the distance in a 1-0 loss to Philadelphia last week.
Xander Bogaerts and Sandy Leon each drove in a pair of runs for Boston, which got plenty of production from a lineup missing Pablo Sandoval, Dustin Pedroia and Mitch Moreland to various injuries.
First baseman Sam Travis and third baseman Deven Marrero, recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket earlier in the day, drove in early runs to get the Red Sox off and running. Mookie Betts and Chris Young also had RBIs as the new division leaders kept piling on.
Boston jumped a half-game ahead of the rival New York Yankees, who have lost seven in a row for their longest slide in a single season since April 2007.
Most of Boston’s damage came against Royals youngster Matt Strahm (2-4), who struggled to follow up his dazzling first career start. The left-hander with a delivery eerily similar to Sale was hammered for five runs on seven hits and a walk before leaving with nobody out in the fourth.
Strahm allowed one unearned run in five innings last week against the Angels.
Sale dominated a Royals lineup that had slugged its way to eight wins in nine games, striking out the side in the fifth for good measure. The long, lean left-hander was finally lifted after Bonifacio’s homer and a base hit by Brandon Moss, ending his outing after 110 pitches.
The dominant performance came after Sale twirled a complete game in his last start at Kansas City, allowing two earned runs while striking out 10 in a 7-4 victory last Sept. 16 for the Chicago White Sox.
Sandoval went on the disabled list before the game with an inner ear infection. The pain began for the Red Sox third baseman a few days ago, but manager John Farrell said Sandoval’s temperature kept climbing. The DL stint also gives Sandoval a mental break after a rough start to the season.
Along with putting Sandoval on the DL, the Red Sox optioned RHP Austin Maddox to Triple-A Pawtucket. That created enough space on the 25-man roster to add Travis and Marrero in time for the game.
Red Sox: Pedroia (ribs) still felt discomfort while swinging in the cage before the game, though Farrell said it’s possible the second baseman could play Wednesday. ... LHP Eduardo Rodriguez (right knee) went through fielding practice before the game. He plans to throw to hitters on Saturday.
Royals: LHP Danny Duffy (right oblique) threw about 40 pitches off the mound to hitters before the game and reported no problems. He plans to throw a side session Friday and could begin a rehab assignment next week. “Felt great, looked great,” manager Ned Yost said.
Red Sox: LHP Drew Pomeranz tries to build on a solid start at Houston in the series finale Wednesday afternoon. Pomeranz allowed one run while pitching into the seventh inning against the Astros.
Royals: RHP Ian Kennedy will be coming off his first win since Sept. 11 when he starts for Kansas City. Kennedy retired the first 17 hitters he faced in a 3-1 victory over the Angels.