BOSTON (AP) — Boston’s Junichi Tazawa found out the hard way that life as closer can have its lousy days.
Tazawa gave up four runs and six hits in the ninth inning as the Kansas City Royals rallied for an 8-6 victory over the Red Sox on Sunday.
“As I’ve been saying over the past several days, we’re going to just be patient through the process with a lot of these guys changing their roles and continue to give them the ball,” Boston interim manager Torey Lovullo said. “It’s a learning moment for Taz.”
Inserted in the role when closer Koji Uehara was lost for the season with a fractured wrist earlier this month, Tazawa was lucky he got any outs in the ninth.
The Royals had two runners cut down at the plate and shortstop Xander Bogaerts made a leaping grab of Ben Zobrist’s line drive.
Mike Moustakas’ two-run double capped a four-run ninth after Eric Hosmer’s two-run single tied it.
“Certainly there is a different kind of nervousness involved,” Tazawa said through a translator. “But for this particular instance, I think maybe the weather, the slippery ball had more to do with it.”
With a light drizzle falling, Boston led 6-4 going into the ninth. After left fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. threw out Omar Infante trying for an inside-the-park homer for the first out, Kansas City rallied with four hits against Tazawa (2-6).
Moustakas, who also had a solo homer and RBI double, sent his go-ahead hit into the right-field gap to cap a 10-pitch at-bat.
Bradley had two RBI doubles and a single for the Red Sox, who went 6-4 on a 10-game homestand – all under Lovullo, who took over for John Farrell on Aug. 14. Farrell took a medical leave for the rest of the season to deal with Stage 1 Lymphoma.
The Royals salvaged a split of the four-game series.
Chris Young (9-6) retired one batter and Wade Davis got the final three outs for his 11th save.
Boston trailed 4-2, but scored twice in both the sixth and seventh.
Ryan Hanigan opened the seventh with a single against starter Edinson Volquez and Bradley hit a grounder inside the first-base bag. He scored on Pablo Sandoval’s infield hit off on a dribbler in front of the plate.
Boston had tied it at 4 when David Ortiz had a sacrifice fly and Rusney Castillo an RBI single.
Volquez gave up six runs in 6 2-3 innings.
Trailing 2-1 in the fourth, the Royals scored twice, taking advantage of two errors on one play. Second baseman Josh Rutledge booted a grounder and center fielder Mookie Betts’ throw bounced into the Royals’ dugout for the first run. Moustakas followed with his RBI double. He homered into the Green Monster seats.
Boston starter Eduardo Rodriguez allowed four runs — two earned — in six innings.
Royals: C Salvador Perez had the day off. He took a hard foul tip off the mask and one off the right leg Saturday night, but was feeling fine.
Red Sox: Utility infielder Brock Holt was out of the lineup again Sunday. He was set to play Saturday, but was taken out of lineup after batting practice with a strained left oblique. … OF Hanley Ramirez had the day off.
3B Sandoval made a pair of diving plays on grounders.
WHAT A THROW
Bradley nailed Infante with his strike from deep left-center after he lost the ball in the wind and it bounced on the track.
“It was just a great throw,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “He’s got a tremendous arm.”
Royals: RHP Kris Medlen (1-0) makes his first start since returning from Tommy John surgery Monday when the Royals host the Baltimore Orioles. RHP Ubaldo Jimenez (9-7) is set to start for the Orioles in the first meeting since the Royals swept the ALCS.
Red Sox: Joe Kelly (6-6) looks to win his fifth straight start as Boston faces RHP Jeff Samardzja (8-9) on Monday in the opener of a three-game series at the Chicago White Sox.
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