Sweet ... Caroline.
Kelvin Herrera’s long-ball miseries continued Saturday afternoon when he surrendered a three-run homer to Daniel Nava with two outs in the eighth inning, which lifted the Boston Red Sox to a 4-3 victory over the Royals.
It was, undeniably, a feel-good moment for Boston after a tragic week that began with the bombings Monday near the finish line of its iconic Marathon and Friday’s city-wide manhunt for the last surviving major suspect.
But it was a crushing loss for the Royals and particularly Herrera, who yielded three homers Tuesday in the eighth inning of a 6-3 loss in Atlanta.
Herrera, 1-2, entered Saturday’s game in place of Tim Collins with the Royals holding a 2-1 lead with two outs and a runner on third in the eighth inning.
A four-pitch walk to Mike Napoli preceded Nava’s no-doubt homer to right. The Red Sox led 4-2.
The Royals rallied in the ninth against Boston closer Andrew Bailey but fell short. Lorenzo Cain led off with a homer, his fourth hit, and Jeff Francoeur had a one-out single before Salvy Perez just missed a homer to right.
Bailey then struck out Perez before George Kottaras, in his first appearance of the season, drew a walk. Elliot Johnson replaced Kottaras as a
pinch-runner. That put the go-ahead runner on base for Alex Gordon, who grounded out to short.
Boston starter Clay Buchholz, 4-0, got the victory after holding the Royals to two runs and eight hits in eight innings. Bailey got his his third save. The Red Sox, 12-4, have won seven in a row.
Neil Diamond had just heightened the Fenway crowd with a live rendition of “Sweet Caroline” when Jonny Gomes led off the eighth inning with a
double off the Green Monster against Collins.
A walk to Dustin Pedroia put the go-ahead run on base with no outs, but Collins got David Ortiz to ground into a double play that moved Gomes to third. In came Herrera for a right-on-right matchup against Napoli, who walked on four pitches. Nava followed with his three-run homer.
It was the Red Sox’s first lead of the day.
Boston had just tied the game in the previous inning when Cain started the seventh with his third hit and second double -- this one was a line-hugging grounder past third. Cain held second on Mike Moustakas’ drive to left before advancing on Francoeur squibber to the mound.
Perez produced the go-ahead run run on a floater into right field along the line that turned into a triple and a 2-1 lead. It was Perez’s third career triple but first since Sept. 15, 2011.
The Royals tried to steal a run on a Chris Getz bunt, but he struck the ball too hard; the result was an easy grounder to Pedroia at second.
Even so, that meant reliever Aaron Crow inherited a one-run lead when he replaced Royals starter James Shields to start the Boston seventh.
Crow started the inning by hitting Nava with a 1-2 slider, and Will Middlebrooks followed with a single through the right side.
Perez picked off Nava at second after Stephen Drew took a first-pitch fastball. It was Perez’s first pickoff of the season and extended his club-
record total to nine.
That pickoff turned enormous when Drew’s short-hop grounder to third got through Moustakas for an error.
When the Red Sox sent up Jarrod Saltalamacchia to bat for David Ross, the Royals counted by summoning Collins. That turned the switch-hitting Saltalamacchia to the right side. The result was a foul pop to Moustakas, and Collins ended the threat by retiring Jacoby Ellsbury on a fly to right.
The Royals blew another scoring chance in the eighth after putting runners at first and third with one out. Eric Hosmer grounded weakly to second for an inning-ending double play.
Shields carried a 1-0 lead into the sixth against the top of the Boston lineup after the Royals wasted a leadoff double by Alex Gordon in the top of the inning.
Ellsbury led off with a single and went to second on Shane Victorino’s sacrifice. Ellsbury took third on Pedroia’s grounder to third despite a look-
back by Moustakas before unleashing his throw.
Perez saved a run-scoring wild pitch on the Shields’ first offering to Oritz, but it was a temporary reprieve. Ortiz tied the game by grounding an RBI single up the middle.
Shields ended the inning by striking out Napoli.
The Royals got one-out singles in the first from Alcides Escobar and in the second from Cain, but Buccholz easily pitched around both minor threats. Shields didn’t permit a hit until Ortiz’s two-out single in the fourth past a diving Getz, who was positioned well into the right-field grass.
That, too, came to nothing when Shields followed that with his sixth strikeout -- Napoli swinging on a 1-2 slider.
The Royals finally broke through after Cain started the fifth inning with a double into the left-field corner. He went to third on Mike Moustakas’ drive to deep center before Francoeur grounded an RBI single into left.
The run snapped Buccholz’s scoreless streak at 22 innings.
Francoeur stole second when Perez took a third strike, but Buccholz limited the damage to one run by striking out Getz. Shields started the Boston fifth by walking Nava but got Middlebrooks to ground into a double play. Drew followed with a single to right, but Shields struck out Ross looking on a 3-2 fastball.
That pushed Shields’ pitch count to 90 through five innings despite permitting just two hits. He had seven strikeouts, three walks and a load of deep counts.
The Royals got another leadoff double in the sixth, this one by Gordon on a slicing drive into the left-field corner. He went to third on Escobar’s sacrifice, which prompted Boston to shorten its infield.
Billy Butler hit a line drive -- but right to Drew at short. Gordon had to dive back into third to avoid the double play, although it didn’t matter when Hosmer grounded out to second.
To reach Bob Dutton, Royals reporter for The Star, send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow his updates at twitter.com/Royals_Report.