Nick Pivetta gave them a chance, but the Red Sox couldn’t take advantage.
And after a clutch week of hitting, the Red Sox’ magic ran out at the plate.
After finally getting a breather on Thursday, their first off day in more than two weeks, the Red Sox couldn’t keep their momentum going in Kansas City. Following four dramatic victories over the last week, and scoring plenty in a two-game, 20-run outburst this week in Atlanta, they couldn’t produce enough timely hits on Friday night in a 5-3 loss to the Royals.
The loss snapped the Red Sox’ (42-28) brief three-game winning streak as they failed to make up ground on the Rays, after entering Friday just a half-game back of the division lead.
The Red Sox had plenty of chances to break the game open, but couldn’t cash in.
They left eight on base, going 2-for-9 with runners in scoring position. Their biggest opportunity came in the fifth, when they scored once but should have scored more.
Marwin Gonzalez and Danny Santana opened the inning with a single and walk, and the bases should have been loaded with no outs. But with a 3-0 count, Christian Arroyo watched two pitches that were outside the zone but called strikes by home plate umpire Jim Wolf. Arroyo ended up grounding into a fielder’s choice, putting runners on first and third with one out.
J.D. Martinez hit a two-out RBI single, but it was all the Red Sox could show for the threat. Xander Bogaerts walked to load the bases, but Rafael Devers struck out, caught chasing a breaking ball to end any rally.
The Red Sox had another big chance in the third, when they scored once and had runners on first and third with no outs. But Martinez grounded into a rare 5-4-2 double play, as Arroyo was cut down racing home.
The Red Sox trailed just 3-2 after five innings from Pivetta, but Matt Andriese’s continued struggles put them in a deeper hole they couldn’t get out of. He gave up an RBI double to Whit Merrifield in the sixth and a solo homer to Salvador Perez in the seventh that made it 5-2. Andriese now has an 8.31 ERA since the start of May.
Devers got one back with his 17th homer of the season, a solo blast to center in the eighth, and the Red Sox couldn’t rally in the ninth.
It wasn’t an easy night for Pivetta, but he did what Red Sox starters have had a hard time doing over the last two weeks: he kept them in the game.
Unfortunately for the right-hander his one big blemish was the difference. After the Red Sox went ahead 1-0 in the third, he gave it up. Carlos Santana and Perez reached on a one-out walk and single. He struck out Jorge Soler, but Adalberto Mondesi crushed a 1-1 fastball to right for a three-run homer that ultimately put the Royals up for good.
Pivetta continued to have trouble keeping the ball in the park after limiting homers to start the season. Mondesi’s blast was the seventh homer Pivetta has allowed in his last six starts — which included a career-high four homers in last Saturday’s loss to the Blue Jays — after he only surrendered three round-trippers in his first eight starts.
Pivetta otherwise limited the damage despite allowing six hits and three walks over five innings. He struck out five batters over his final two innings as he left with a 3-2 deficit to keep the Red Sox well within striking distance.