KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Eduardo Núñez belted a pinch-hit, three-run homer to break open a close game in the eighth inning, and the Boston Red Sox went on to beat the Kansas City Royals 8-3 on Tuesday night.
Rafael Devers also drove in a pair of runs for the Red Sox, who began a grueling stretch of 17 games in 16 days by rallying from an early 2-0 hole against Kansas City.
Eduardo Rodríguez (6-3) was stingy over 5 2/3 innings, allowing just six hits while striking out seven. His only mistake came in the second, when Cheslor Cuthbert hit a two-run shot to left.
Glenn Sparkman matched Rodríguez most of the way, but he left a runner on base when he was lifted with one out in the sixth. Scott Barlow (1-2) promptly gave up the lead with a miserable relief outing, and Núñez’s homer off Jake Diekman in the eighth inning was merely the finishing touch.
The Red Sox improved to 9-1 in Rodríguez’s last 10 starts.
Meanwhile, the woebegone Royals lost for an AL-leading 20th time when they had the lead.
Even more frustrating for Kansas City: Sparkman was slicing up Boston’s lineup, allowing just two hits through five innings. But after Mookie Betts’ leadoff double in the sixth, and Andrew Benintendi’s flyout, Sparkman was yanked by manager Ned Yost despite having thrown just 80 pitches.
Barlow entered the game and the spark went out of the Royals.
J.D. Martinez delivered an RBI triple, Devers drew a walk and Xander Bogaerts added a sacrifice fly to knot the game 2-all. Brock Holt followed with a double to give the Red Sox their first lead.
It was still 3-2 in the eighth when Núñez connected for the second pinch-hit homer by the Red Sox this season.
Red Sox 1B Mitch Moreland (low back strain) hit off a tee and could return when he’s eligible this week, manager Alex Cora said. He went on the injured list retroactive to May 26. … 1B Steve Pearce (low back strain) is still not doing any baseball activities. He went on the IL on Saturday.
Royals 3B Hunter Dozier (strained oblique) was placed on the IL before the game, though the move was retroactive to last Friday. Yost was optimistic Dozier will be back in about a week.
The Red Sox made a couple of convenient picks when the first-year player draft resumed Tuesday. In the third round, they selected big Kansas right-hander Ryan Zeferjahn. Two rounds later, they took his battery mate in catcher Jaxx Groshans.
The Royals focused on college pitching on Day 2 of the draft, grabbing five more to go with right-hander Alec Marsh, their compensatory pick out of Arizona State. The Royals likewise stockpiled college arms in last year’s draft, using their first five picks on them.
Left-hander Chris Sale (1-7, 4.35 ERA) tries to bounce back from three straight shaky starts when he takes the mound for Boston on Wednesday night. RHP Jakob Junis (4-5, 5.35) starts for Kansas City.
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