An extended Sunday that started with a winning dose of magic concluded with the Royals securing a doubleheader sweep over the Boston Red Sox on a base-loaded walk in the 10th inning.
Not a bad way to end the weekend.
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Ervin Santana —“Magic” to his teammates —worked seven strong innings in the afternoon opener for a 4-2 victory before the Royals rallied to win 5-4 in the evening nightcap.
“It was a nice day for all of us,” said Greg Holland, who closed out both victories for saves. “It’s hard to win doubleheaders to begin with.
“And the way the Red Sox were playing ... and being here —it’s tough to play here. To be able to win two games means a lot.”
The last time the Royals swept a doubleheader at Fenway Park was May 31, 1971 — more than a year before the Watergate burglaries that eventually brought down the Nixon Administration.
“These are games that, in my career, I’ve come out on the losing side, the teams I’ve been on, more times than not,” said Jeremy Guthrie, who got a no-decision in the second game.
“It’s tough to play here. It’s a good team. Ervin did a great job in the first (game), and the bats got big hits tonight and the bullpen threw four big scoreless innings.”
The Royals scored the winning run in the second game when Lorenzo Cain drew a bases-loaded, two-out walk on four pitches from Andrew Miller, 0-1, in the 10th inning.
“All I was thinking was ‘swing at a strike,’” Cain said. “That was my main focus. He threw me a first-pitch ball. Then he came with a slider down and in. I took that one. At 2-0, I was taking all the way.
“No chance in (heck) that I’ll be swinging at that 3-0 pitch.”
The Royals forced extra innings on Billy Butler’s game-tying homer in the eighth against Koji Uehara, who had not allowed a run in 22 previous appearances.
“Billy is yet to get on a real roll for us,” manager Ned Yost said. “Like a lot of our guys. But that was a huge home run for us to tie that ballgame off a tough pitcher.”
Santana, 2-1, yielded two runs in the first inning of the opener but nothing more before exiting after the seventh. It was his third straight dominant start — and his third straight that he allowed no runs after the first inning.
“I think he couldn’t feel the ball in the first inning,” catcher Salvy Perez said, “because it was so cold. He was a little bit up with his pitches. After that, he was great.”
The Royals held on for the victory by avoiding an eighth-inning collapse for the third time in four games. Aaron Crow retired Jarrod Saltalamacchia on a tapper to the mound with two outs and the bases loaded.
Holland made quick work of the Red Sox in the ninth inning — two strikeouts and a routine fly to center. He struck out the side in closing out the second game and now has five saves in six chances.
Alex Gordon started the winning rally in the second game by driving a one-out single through the left side against Miller, who then walked Alcides Escobar on four pitches.
Miller struck out Butler, but Eric Hosmer’s infield single loaded the bases before Cain drew a four-pitch walk for the go-ahead run.
Kelvin Herrera, 2-2, concluded his roller-coaster week by getting the victory after escaping a two-on, two-out jam in the ninth inning when Cain ran down Mike Napoli’s drive to deep center.
Butler’s homer forced Boston starter Allen Webster to settle for a no-decision in his big-league debut. Webster gave up three runs, two earned, in six innings.
Guthrie allowed four runs in six innings but also gained a no-decision, which extended his unbeaten streak to 15 starts. It dates to an Aug. 3, 2012 loss to Texas and consists of seven victories and eight no-decisions.
The Royals started quickly in the second game when Gordon hit Webster’s first pitch off the Green Monster for a double.
Shortstop Pedro Ciriaco then made a diving stop on Escobar’s sharp grounder but threw the ball into the seats behind first base. That meant Gordon was awarded home and put Escobar on second.
Boston answered with a two-run second inning. Napoli led off with a homer over the Monster before Mike Carp added an RBI double after a walk to Will Middlebrooks.
The Red Sox extended their lead to 3-1 on Dustin Pedroia’s RBI single in the third, but the Royals pulled even in the fifth on homers by George Kottaras (in his first start of the season) and Gordon.
Boston answered immediately after a one-out walk to Daniel Nava in their fifth. Singles by Pedroia and Napoli produced a 4-3 lead.
Santana said the bracing Boston weather — 49 degrees at first pitch with a 13-mph wind — made it difficult to grip the ball until he made adjustments.
“It is tough,” he said, “but you can’t think about it. You have to try to finish the pitch off the best you can.”
“I was able to get a better feel, and I was just finished every pitch up front. That and I kept the ball down. Those were the huge things for me.”
The Royals provided just enough support from an attack that continues to splutter. Escobar hit a one-out homer in the first inning, and Perez capped a three-run fourth with a two-run single.
All four runs came against Boston starter Ryan Dempster, who worked seven innings but fell to 0-2.
“The difference in the game,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said, “was Perez on the 1-1 slider for two runs as opposed to the eighth inning, where we had the bases loaded and a chance to create some damage.”
The Royals’ victory in the opener snapped Boston’s seven-game winning streak and came four days after they halted Atlanta’s 10-game winning streak with a 1-0 victory behind Wade Davis.
“I don’t even think we’re playing our best baseball,” Gordon said. “The pitching is doing great, but offensively we can do better. We’ve got a big series (starting Tuesday) in Detroit. We’ll try to get at them.”