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Sox drop back-and-forth extras affair vs. KC

Bullpen allows costly HRs, while defensive miscues yield runs
MLB.com @IanMBrowne

BOSTON -- Eduardo Nunez had already tied the game once for the Red Sox on Tuesday night at Fenway Park and it looked like he was going to do it again.

But the drive by Nunez was flagged down by center fielder Abraham Almonte on a slight leaping catch in front of the wall, ending a 7-6 loss in 13 innings to the Royals. If the ball had gone another foot or so, it would have likely been an RBI double.

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BOSTON -- Eduardo Nunez had already tied the game once for the Red Sox on Tuesday night at Fenway Park and it looked like he was going to do it again.

But the drive by Nunez was flagged down by center fielder Abraham Almonte on a slight leaping catch in front of the wall, ending a 7-6 loss in 13 innings to the Royals. If the ball had gone another foot or so, it would have likely been an RBI double.

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A thoroughly-frustrated Nunez slammed his helmet down at the end result. But he wasn't nearly as frustrated as manager Alex Cora.

Though the game-breaking hit for the Royals was a three-run homer by Jorge Soler in the top of the 13th against Brian Johnson to snap a 4-4 tie, what drew the ire of Cora was shoddy defense.

The scoresheet showed a season-high of four errors, but there were several other defensive gaffes that didn't count as errors.

"Awful. That was a horrible game [defensively]," Cora said. "We were lucky we were playing 13 innings, honestly. That was bad. Mental mistakes, physical mistakes, all kinds of mistakes. That was awful."

Video: KC@BOS: Cora not pleased with Red Sox defense

In the top of the fourth, it looked like the Red Sox had an out at the plate on a flyout to left by Alcides Escobar, but Christian Vazquez dropped the throw home from J.D. Martinez.

Two innings later, with runners at the corners and one out, Escobar tried to steal second. Vazquez fired down to second, and Escobar smartly retreated back to first to force a rundown. Though the Red Sox finally did get him out, Jon Jay scored on the play to give the Royals a 2-0 lead.

Video: KC@BOS: Escobar gets caught in rundown, Jay scores

"It was a good throw, but lower so [Xander Bogaerts] decided to get him," Cora said. "Perfect-case scenario, we want him to cut the ball and go to the plate. Jon Jay didn't have a good jump at third base but …"

Despite not putting themselves in the best position to win, the Red Sox still almost did so.

Closer Craig Kimbrel had a one-run lead with one out in the ninth as he tried to nail down the save for Chris Sale, who allowed two runs (one earned) on five hits while striking out six in seven innings.* But Alex Gordon clocked a tying solo shot to right on a 97-mph fastball.

Video: KC@BOS: Gordon belts game-tying HR in the 9th

"Well, it was right down the middle," Kimbrel said. "I fell behind, 2-1, and wasn't exactly trying to throw it down the middle, but I was trying to throw an aggressive pitch, and he put a good swing on it."

After the Royals took the lead on a sacrifice fly by Jay in the 12th, Nunez ripped a tying solo shot in the bottom of the inning against closer Kelvin Herrera.

But the momentum was short-lived. Johnson got the first out in the 13th, but he then allowed singles to Gordon and Whit Merrifield. That set up Soler, who unloaded on a 1-0 curveball by Johnson.

"I mean, it wasn't the perfect situation for him, but as you guys know, we've been short for a while pitching-wise and he did his best," Cora said. "You can't blame him. He tried to get us three outs, and Soler put a good swing on it and hit a breaking ball out of the ballpark. That's not on him."

MOMENT THAT MATTERED
Nunez, who is off to a slow start this season, wasn't in the starting lineup. But he had a chance to make his presence felt on the rocket against Herrera's 95-mph fastball. It was a good sign that Nunez was able to catch up to the heat.

"He's been working hard on it the last few days, showing up early and using the machine at a high velocity," Cora said. "It seems like his hands are working a little bit better. There were a few balls, the home run obviously on that last one, he stayed on it. Those were good signs."

SOUND SMART
Despite the loss, Boston's 21-8 record is the club's third best in history at the 29-game mark, trailing the 1946 (23-6) and 2002 squads (22-7).

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
In a play you don't see very often, Vazquez inadvertently touched the baseball with his mask on a pitch in the dirt in the 10th, and two Royals runners were allowed to move up a base on a catcher's interference/error.

Video: KC@BOS: Catcher's interference, error moves RISP

"It was not on purpose. I was trying to get the ball. I got the interference," Vazquez said. "It's part of the game, you know? It's tough, a tough loss, but we'll get them tomorrow."

HE SAID IT
"This is a game where you can be around for 20 years and see something new every day. You see some crazy stuff from time to time. You handle it, you deal with it. I mean, there's no rhyme or reason. Like I've said before, that's what makes this game frustrating. That's what makes this game awesome. So like I said before, you take it all in stride and just prepare for the next one." -- Sale, after a wild game that resulted in a tough loss for his team

Video: KC@BOS: Sale fans six over seven strong frames

UP NEXT
Mookie Betts will be back in the lineup after not starting the past three games due to tightness in his right hamstring, while lefty Drew Pomeranz, who had diminished velocity in his first two outings back from the disabled list, starts the series finale on Wednesday at 1:05 p.m. ET. Lefty Danny Duffy will start for the Royals.

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.

Boston Red Sox, Brian Johnson, Jackie Bradley Jr., Craig Kimbrel, Mitch Moreland, Eduardo Nunez, Chris Sale