Just another day at the ballpark?
Quite the contrary.
Playing without Josh Beckett, who had been scheduled to start the game but was dealt to Los Angeles along with first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, utilityman Nick Punto, and injured left fielder Carl Crawford, the Sox pounded out a season-high 20 hits.
No. 9 hitter Tony Abreu delivered the winning run with two outs and two on, ripping a single to left off Junichi Tazawa (0-1) in the 12th. Greg Holland retired the Sox in the bottom of the frame in order to end this 4-hour 31-minute marathon.
“Yeah, it was frustrating,’’ said manager Bobby Valentine, who was forced to use all seven of his available relievers after starter Aaron Cook pitched the first six innings on three days’ rest. “We had a lot of hits, we had some opportunities to score even some more runs when it was even at nine.’’
The manager was referring to a missed opportunity in the 10th when Pedro Ciriaco reached on a leadoff single, went to second on a wild pitch, took third on a sacrifice bunt by Scott Podsednik, and was thrown out at home by first baseman Eric Hosmer on a Jacoby Ellsbury grounder.
This after the Sox rallied from a 3-0 first-inning deficit to take a 9-3 lead after four. Four runs came in the second inning on Mauro Gomez’s solo homer and Mike Aviles’s three-run blast off Royals starter Jeremy Guthrie.
The Sox tacked on three runs in the third and two in the fourth to give starter Aaron Cook a six-run lead. But an overworked bullpen wound up getting worked over for six runs in the seventh.
Even before the teamed suspended closer Alfredo Aceves three games for conduct detrimental to the team, Valentine expressed concerns about his overworked bullpen being “stressed.’’ It wound up coming to fruition when the Royals worked over Andrew Miller, Mark Melancon, and Craig Breslow, who combined to give up six runs on five hits and three walks that allowed the Royals tie the game, 9-9, in the seventh.
“Just misfired a little and couldn’t the third out in the seventh inning,’’ Valentine said. “We had four tries on it and they got RBIs on all of them.’’
Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas delivered the crushing blow with a two-run triple to right off Breslow that scored Billy Butler and Salvador Perez with the tying runs.
Cook, who volunteered to take Beckett’s turn in the rotation, gave up three runs on four hits in the first inning.
“Last night we kind of had an idea of what was going on,’’ Cook said. “I went up to Nemo [pitching coach Randy Niemann] and Bobby and said, ‘Hey, if Josh isn’t here I’d like to take the ball and go out there,’ so they were cool with it.’’
After Cook allowed the first two batters to reach on singles, Alex Gordon doubled to left to give the Royals a 2-0 lead. Butler tacked on another run with a single to right.
The Sox came back in the second inning with four runs on four hits off Guthrie. Cook, meanwhile, settled down and retired 11 of 12 batters.
“Really, the adjustment was just getting the ball down an inch or two more,’’ Cook said.
Guthrie gave up three more runs [two earned] after loading the bases in the third.
Dustin Pedroia hit a shallow fly down the right field line that hopped into the stands for a ground-rule double. Ellsbury walked and Cody Ross singled to center to load the bases for Gomez, who hit a chopper toward third that was fielded by Guthrie.
Pedroia scored, and Ellsbury came in behind him when Guthrie threw wildly to the plate. Gomez attempted to take second on the play, but was thrown out by catcher Perez. Ross scored on Jarrod Saltalamacchia’s sacrifice fly to center to give the Sox a 7-3 lead.
After Ryan Lavarnway drew a walk, Guthrie was done for the night, having allowed seven runs (six earned) on seven hits in 2⅔ innings.
The Sox padded their lead by cuffing around reliever Everett Teaford for a pair of runs on three hits and one walk to extend their lead to 9-3.
Miller relieved Cook in the seventh and gave up four runs on a pair of hits and two walks, the last of which loaded the bases for Gordon, who chased Miller with a two-run single to right.
Melancon came on and allowed two hits to the only two batters he faced before handing it over to Breslow, who gave up the two-run triple to Moustakas that eluded Ross in right.
“I think I took my eye off it for a hair too long,’’ said Ross, who twisted his right knee on the play and had to come out of the game.
Bailey and Vicente Padilla tossed a pair of scoreless frames in the ninth and 10th, before the game unraveled for the Sox in the 12th.
“Today was a crazy day, but it was kind of the business part of it,’’ Cook said. “We realize things are going to happen throughout the season that we can’t control. We came out today, we played really good baseball, and battled our butts off all night and we’ll clean up and try to come back out tomorrow and try to do it again.’’