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Red Sox Open Second Half With Win Over Royals

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Jonny Gomes celebrates with Stephen Drew after Gomes' two-run homer gave the Red Sox a 5-4 lead in the sixth inning. Charles Krupa/AP

After spotting the Royals a three-run lead going into the sixth inning, the Red Sox broke through with four runs thanks to a pair of two-run home runs, by Xander Bogaerts and Jonny Gomes, lifting the Red Sox to a 5-4 win at Fenway Park.

Gomes’ home run was of the pinch-hit variety, which has become his signature, batting for Jackie Bradley with two outs against left-hander Scott Downs who came in to face Bradley. For Gomes it was the ninth pinch-hit home run of his career, second of the season (accounting for the Sox’ only two pinch-hit homers this season), and sixth while with the Red Sox. That moves him into sole possession of second place on the team’s all-time list behind only Ted Williams, with seven.

Clay Buchholz started, and while his performance was somewhat uneven, it was good enough for the win, improving his record to 5-5, the first time this season he has been at .500, while his ERA edged up slightly, from 5.42 to 5.46. He went six innings, giving up four runs on 10 hits (the most he has allowed since giving up 10 on May 15 at Minnesota) with no walks and three strikeouts.

Buchholz – who needed just 40 pitches in his first three innings, but 44 in his last two – gave up a run in the first on back-to-back wall-ball hits by Omar Infante (a double) and Eric Hosmer (single). He gave up two more in the fourth, facing seven batters, when he allowed four hits. The Royals got another run off him in the fifth when Hosmer’s two-out single scored No. 9 hitter Nori Aoki, who led off with a single, stole second base, and took third on a passed ball by David Ross.

In five starts since being activated from the disabled list on June 25, Buchholz is 3-1 with a 3.25 ERA.

The Sox got a run off Royals starter James Shields in the second when Xander Bogaerts reached on an error by shortstop Alcides Escobar, took third on Stephen Drew’s single to center, scoring on Brock Holt’s two-out single to left.

Shields, who was not involved in the decision, went 5 2/3 innings, giving up four runs, three earned, on eight hits and a walk with three strikeouts. Downs was charged with the loss, falling to 0-3 (6.18), and a blown save.

Koji Uehara earned his 19th save, in 21 chances, with a scoreless ninth.

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MVP: Jonny Gomes
Gomes’ home run was the ninth pinch-hit home run of his career, second of the season (accounting for the Sox’ only two pinch-hit homers this season), and sixth while with the Red Sox. That moves him into sole possession of second place on the team’s all-time list behind only Ted Williams, with seven.

GOAT: Scott Downs
Brought in to protect one-run lead, Downs gave up a two-run home run to the first batter he faced, which would be the difference in the game.

ICYMI:
One of the more unorthodox plays you’ll see, in the third inning, David Ortiz led off with a pop fly out that went down in the scorebooks as 3-5.

QUOTE OF THE GAME:
“He stays prepared and anticipates the moment, and I think more than anything his swing is built for Fenway Park.” – Manager John Farrell on what makes Jonny Gomes a successful pinch-hitter.

NUMBERS TO KNOW:
Buchholz did not allow a walk for the fourth time in five starts since coming off the disabled list on June 25. He has allowed just one walk in 35 2/3 innings overall since then…In a quirk of the schedule, Buchholz became the first Sox pitcher to start and win consecutive games for the Sox since Don Schwall did so on July 9 and 13, 1961…Bogaerts’ home run was his first since June 13, snapping a string of career-long 89 at-bats without a home run. It was his first extra-base hit since his home run in his last at-bat on June 13 against the Indians…Stephen Drew went 2-for-3 with a double and is now 5 for his last 9 after going hitless in his previous 16 at-bats…Mike Napoli went 2-for-4 and has now reached base in 20 of his last 21 games since June 20, going 21-for-73, batting .288 with a .422 OBP in that time.

WHAT IT MEANS:
With the win the Sox improved to 18-20 in one-run games and 24-26 at Fenway. Each of their last six home wins has been by one run. It was their 18th come-from-behind win of the season…Since 2008, the Sox are 16-6 against the Royals at Fenway.

LOOKING AHEAD:
The Sox and Royals play the second of their three-game set at Fenway Park Saturday at 7:10 p.m. Right-hander Rubby De La Rosa (2-2, 2.89) is scheduled to start, opposed by KC lefty Danny Duffy (5-9, 2.76).

De La Rosa has never started against the Royals before. He faced them once in a relief appearance, Aug. 8, 2013, at Kansas City, when he gave up two runs on two hits in one inning.

This is will be his sixth start of the season. In his last five starts he is 1-2 with a 3.56 ERA, with two quality starts. In his last three outings he is 1-0 with a 1.89 ERA.

Duffy will be making his 20th appearances, 14 start, of the season. This will be his fourth career start against the Sox, and second at Fenway. He has not faced the Sox since before he had Tommy John surgery on June 13, 2012. In his last outing at Fenway, July 26, 2011, he struck out five while allowing six runs over 3 2/3 innings.

In his last outing, July 11 against the Tigers, he went six innings, allowing two runs (one earned) on five hits with no walks and six strikeouts. He took the loss when the unearned run scored on his own error. He has pitched into the sixth inning in each of his last eight starts, with a 2.19 ERA in that span.