Game over: Red Sox 6, Royals 1
That's a wrap and a series victory for the Red Sox. With the Yankees winning at the moment at Minnesota, they'll probably still be a half-game out.
A makeshift lineup scored six runs on 10 hits, five for extra bases. All those who wanted Terry Francona jailed when the lineup came out this morning are ducking for cover.
Darnell McDonald had three hits including a home run. Ryan Lavarnway had two hits including an RBI double. Jon Lester (13-6) was the winner and Danny Duffy (3-8) the loser.
Back later with a report from the clubhouse.
Middle of the 9th: Red Sox 6, Royals 1
The Royals had Joakim Soria for an inning and he set down the Sox in order. Reddick struck out again. He's starting to look overmatched.
Dan Wheeler out for the bottom of the ninth.
Top of the 9th: Red Sox 6, Royals 1
Bard went back out with a five-run lead. He retired the side in order. He threw 24 pitches today, which could keep him out tomorrow.
Middle of the 8th: Red Sox 6, Royals 1
Here in the wide-open spaces of the Great Plains, the Sox have some breathing room.
With Louis Coleman on the mound, Scutaro doubled. McDonald then singled before Gonzalez had a single for his fourth RBI in the last 20 games.
Pedroia (0 for 4) struck out. But Lowrie delivered a sac fly to center to score McDonald. Lavarnway then crushed a double to left field, just missing a home run,
Boola Boola. The Yale Man is 5 of his last 9 with two walks.
Crawford drew a walk from Tim Collins before Varitek struck out.
Top of the 8th: Red Sox 3, Royals 1
Lester faded fast. Giavotella had a triple, the ball rolling into the right field corner. Perez then drew a walk and Moustakas drove a single into right field.
In came Daniel Bard for the rescue. He struck out Escobar and got Gordon on a fly ball to center before Cabrera grounded into a force. Great job by him.
Can Bard get through the 8th? Papelbon has not had to get more than four outs in a game since May 9.
Middle of the 7th: Red Sox 3, Royals 0
Crawford homered off Aaron Crow, his seventh of the season. Now we'll how long Lester can last in the seventh.
Top of the 7th: Red Sox 2, Royals 0
1-2-3 inning for Lester, who has retired seven straight. He's at 100 pitches. No action in the Sox pen, so he will be coming back out.
Middle of the 6th: Red Sox 2, Royals 0
D-Mac homered (his 5th, all against lefties) to add to the lead. He's 2 for 3 today. The daily "Francona doesn't know how to make out a lineup!" complainers are having a bad day.
Top of the 6th: Red Sox 1, Royals 0
Lester set down the Royals in order. He has thrown 88 pitches through five innings, however. Sox may need the bullpen for three innings if Lester throws 20 or so pitches in the next inning. Who pitches the seventh then?
Middle of the 5th: Red Sox 1, Royals 0
Lowrie singled and was on second with two outs when Varitek drove a ball to the gap in right. The captain, running hard out of the box, raced all the way to third for his first triple since June 24, 2007 in San Diego at Petco National Park.
Varitek has 14 career triples, believe it or not. Wonder when the last time was a 39-year-old catcher had a triple?
Reddick had a chance to add to the lead but struck out. He then slammed his bat down. The frustration is mounting for Reddick as pitchers learn how to work him.
Top of the 5th: Red Sox 0, Royals 0
Lester got two outs before Perez had a single for KC's first hit. Giavotella then grounded into a force. Snoozer here so far. It's more bad hitting than good pitching.
Middle of the 4th: Red Sox 0, Royals 0
McDonald singled then got caught wandering off first and was thrown out 2-3-6-3. For a player who has to do the little things right, McDonald has been thrown out on the bases way too often this season.
Gonzalez flied to left (that's now 80 plate appearances without a homer) before Pedroia popped up to second.
Very uneventful game so far. Two singles, both by the Sox.
Top of the 4th: Red Sox 0, Royals 0
Lester handled the Royals easily enough outside of walking Butler. Lester averaged 2.8 walks per nine innings in 2008 and 2009. The number has gone up since, hitting 3.6 last season and 3.3 this season. He needs to reign that in a bit.
He has thrown 59 pitches today through three innings. That's too many.
Middle of the 3rd: Red Sox 0, Royals 0
Danny Duffy, he of the 5.66 ERA, is throwing a one-hit shutout and the one hit was a broken bat bloop single. Lester better be on his game.
Top of the 3rd: Red Sox 0, Royals 0
Dicey inning there for Leser thanks to poor defense and his own poor control.
He walked Hosmer and then, with two outs, got Perez to ground to third. Lowrie's error extended the inning and cost Lester 11 extra pitches. He walked Moustakas (a .204 hitter) then got Escobar on a one-hopper back to the mound.
Middle of the 2nd: Red Sox 0, Royals 0
Lavarnway (3 of his last 4) had a broken-bat single to center field with two outs. Crawford then struck out.
Top of the 2nd: Red Sox 0, Royals 0
Easy inning for Lester, who disposed of the Royals in order. Man, hard to believe Melky Cabrera is hitting .305 with 16 homers and 74 RBIs. Nice cheap pickup by KC. He's a solid OF, too.
Middle of the 1st: Red Sox 0, Royals 0
Scutaro drew a leadoff walk. McDonald then flied to center. Gonzalez struck out and as he did, Scutaro broke for second and then stopped. He was caught in a rundown to end the inning.
Not sure if that was a busted hit-and-run, but something went haywire.
Pre-game: Good afternoon from Kauffman Stadium, where it's a great afternoon for baseball. The Sox will have Jon Lester on the mound against rookie lefty Danny Duffy.
The Sox have a chance to win the series today then fly to Texas with a little momentum before a tough four-game series with the Rangers.
Hang out here for updates all game and, as always, we welcome your comments.