BOSTON -- It goes in the scorebook as a 6-3 out. But it was enough for the Red Sox to pull out a 9-8 walk-off victory in the 10th inning to at last cool off the Royals, who saw their winning streak end at nine games on Saturday night at Fenway Park.
The four-hour, 45-minute game ended in zany fashion. It was the Red Sox's first walk-off groundout without an error since Aug. 8, 1937, when Jimmie Foxx scored on a Ben Chapman groundout to the second baseman.
With one out, Eduardo Nunez hit a grounder in which shortstop Alcides Escobar made a nice stop from the ground and got the out at first base. Once the throw went to first, Sandy Leon raced home from third ahead of Eric Hosmer's throw and slid in safely under the tag attempt by catcher Andrew Butera.
Nunez, who had smashed two towering homers earlier in the game, was credited with an RBI.
"I saw [Mookie Betts] far off second base and I thought he was going to get into a rundown, so I decided to go. That was a pretty close play," Leon said. "The right side was really open, so I tried to reach home plate without him touching me."
It was a big win for the Red Sox, just their second in the last seven games, as they stayed a half-game behind the Yankees in the American League East. For the Royals, it was a tough way for their streak to end, as they twice couldn't hold two-run leads and slipped to three games behind the first-place Indians in the AL Central.
"[Hosmer] made a good throw," Butera said. "I went to tag him, but credit to Sandy -- he made a nice slide. I felt like I was in the right position.
"Kind of typical for a game here in Boston. Lot going on. Stinks to be on the losing end."
Added Royals manager Ned Yost, "Great play by Esky. Good throw home. We just missed the tag. It was a great slide."
Nunez wound up with a face doused in baby powder during the walk-off celebration that completed his second game with the Red Sox.
"Baby powder in my eyes. I couldn't even see after that. That was fun," Nunez said.
Leon started the winning rally with a leadoff double off the Green Monster. Losing pitcher Mike Minor put himself into a bad spot with a one-out wild pitch that put runners on second and third.
The game swayed back and forth all night. Lorenzo Cain's pop fly down the line in right in the fourth wound up as a three-run homer that curled fair around Pesky's Pole to give the Royals a 4-2 lead. The projected distance of 302 feet is the shortest homer tracked since Statcast™ was introduced in 2015. The drive had a modest exit velocity of 90.4 mph.
An RBI double by Christian Vazquez and an RBI single from Rafael Devers tied it in the bottom of the fourth. Nunez's second homer provided a lead in the fifth. An error by Mike Moustakas later that inning made it a two-run game. Momentum went back in the Royals' direction in a big way in a four-run sixth, helped by errors from third baseman Devers and Nunez. The Red Sox got single runs in the seventh and eighth, tying it on a sacrifice fly to deep center by Betts.
"We've had our share of games that have extended deep into the night and to win this after the see-saw battle it was, this was a good win," Red Sox manager John Farrell said.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Cain cut down: Vazquez helped keep the deficit to just one run when he fired to second to nail Cain trying to steal for the second out in the top of the eighth. Reliever Richard Hembree wound up facing just three batters in the inning, and Vazquez jump-started the tying rally in the bottom of the eighth with a leadoff single.
"That's my game, throwing people out and trying to help the team in that aspect," Vazquez said. "Trying to do my best to help the team."
Leon nails Gore: It was a different catcher who made a key throw for the Red Sox to snuff out a rally in the top of the ninth. Brock Holt was a pinch-runner for Vazquez in the eighth and scored the tying run, meaning Leon came on to catch the ninth. Pinch-runner Terrance Gore seemed to get a good jump when he tried to steal second. But Leon made a strong throw, and Gore was narrowly out. The Royals challenged the call, but the replay was inconclusive and the call was ruled to stand. It was just the third career caught stealing for Gore in 22 tries.
"You come off the bench after sitting for eight innings and you're getting a world-class sprinter in Gore at first base. And that pitch has got to be turned around with accuracy, with quickness, that was one heck of a throw," Farrell said.
"Just a perfect throw," Yost said.
Right-hander Trevor Cahill wobbled in his first start for the Royals, giving up five runs and eight hits in four-plus innings.
"Not very good," Cahill said. "The offense did a nice job coming back and it would have been nice to put up some more zeros. I just couldn't hold that lead."
Royals: Right-hander Jason Hammel (4-8, 4.81 ERA) will start the series finale against the Red Sox on Sunday at 12:35 p.m CT. Hammel gave up three runs and five hits in 5 2/3 innings in his previous start on Monday against the Tigers.
Red Sox: Left-hander Thomas Pomeranz gets the ball on Sunday at 1:35 p.m. ET for the finale of this three-game series at Fenway Park. Pomeranz has given up three earned runs or fewer in seven of his last eight starts. Prior to the game, the Red Sox will commemorate the 10-year anniversary of the 2007 World Series championship team.
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