BOSTON -- There is no stopping the blistering-hot Royals these days.Kansas City rolled into Fenway Park and knocked the Red Sox out of first place, riding a strong performance by Jason Vargas and a three-run homer by Mike Moustakas to a 4-2 victory in Friday night's opener of a three-game
BOSTON -- There is no stopping the blistering-hot Royals these days.
Kansas City rolled into Fenway Park and knocked the Red Sox out of first place, riding a strong performance by Jason Vargas and a three-run homer by Mike Moustakas to a 4-2 victory in Friday night's opener of a three-game series.
The Royals have won nine in a row and are two games out of first in the American League Central.
"We know we're on a run and we're all clicking at the same time," Moustakas said. "We're a second-half team and we always have been. We can be dangerous."
The Red Sox fell out of first place and a half-game behind the Yankees in the AL East after losing six of their last eight games.
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"We have the talent, we're in a bit of a rut right now," said losing pitcher Rick Porcello. "If we go out there and prepare the way we know how to prepare and play hard and play aggressively, that will take us where we need to go. Talent, preparation and hard work and those things are going to trump all, so we stay focused on those things we'll be fine."
Moustakas delivered the biggest hit of the game, smashing a three-run homer -- his 30th of the season -- down the line in right in the fourth to give Kansas City a 4-0 lead.
"The one to Moustakas is really the one that is going to make it hard to sleep tonight," Porcello said. "He's one of the guys in their lineup before the game, didn't want him to beat me. Got in a situation where I had two strikes on him, kind of got in a dogfight, he was fouling some pitches off. I was just trying to drive a fastball in right there and if it missed for a ball, so be it. I didn't have a problem putting him on and it went right into his barrel. That one stinks."
Vargas (13-4, 3.00 ERA) moved into a tie with Red Sox ace Chris Sale for the AL lead in wins, holding Boston to five hits and a run over six innings.
"I was just able to command a few more pitches this time," Vargas said. "I threw some changeups wild early, but then I had better command of it."
Porcello (4-14) gave up six hits and four runs in seven innings. Eduardo Nunez, acquired on Wednesday from the Giants, had a strong debut for Boston, getting two hits and a walk.
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MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Moose's missile: Not only did Moustakas get the Royals out to a comfortable lead with his three-run homer around Pesky's Pole, but he became the fastest in team history to reach the 30-homer plateau. Moustakas is well within reach of Steve Balboni's team record of 36 homers in a season, set in the World Series-winning season of 1985. The shot by Moustakas had an exit velocity of 104.5 mph and a projected distance of 372 feet, according to Statcast™.
"I always feel good about Moose in that situation," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "The way we're swinging the bats, I feel good about anyone up there." More >
Royals get Pedroia in big spot: Though it was mostly a quiet night for the Red Sox offensively, they looked primed to get back in the game in the bottom of the fifth. Rafael Devers got things going with his first Fenway hit, a one-out double to right. Mookie Betts delivered an RBI single and then Nunez came up with his second hit to keep the rally going. The Red Sox had their best RBI man of late at the plate in Dustin Pedroia, who represented the tying run. But Vargas made a big pitch, getting Pedroia on a groundout to end the inning.
"That two-out base hit is elusive, and on a night when we're in a low-run game once again, those are big outs recorded against us," said Red Sox manager John Farrell.
"From the beginning, when I first started playing baseball back home, I've always wanted to play in the big leagues and to play in this park. Yeah. It was very emotional for me and it was a dream come true. For a while I've been thinking about what that would feel like to play at Fenway, and it happened today." -- Devers, on his Fenway debut
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The Royals' bullpen's streak of not allowing an earned run ended at 30 1/3 innings when the Red Sox pushed across a run in the seventh on Chris Young's triple and Sandy Leon's groundout.
At 20 years, 277 days old, Devers became the youngest Red Sox player with a hit at Fenway Park since Mike Garman in 1969.
Royals: Right-hander Trevor Cahill (4-3, 3.69 ERA with San Diego) will make his Royals debut on Saturday against the Red Sox at 6:10 p.m. CT. Cahill last pitched on July 21 against the Giants and gave up five earned runs in 3 2/3 innings.
Red Sox: Left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez, who starts on Saturday, will try to get in a better groove after laboring in his first two outings back from the disabled list. Rodriguez is 1-1 with a 4.08 ERA in three career starts against the Royals. First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. ET.
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Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.
Jeffrey Flanagan has covered the Royals since 1991, and for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter @FlannyMLB.