Boston — Matt Clement's most impressive move simply was taking the mound for the first time since he was hit in the head by a line drive.
The fact that he struggled Thursday in his first outing in nine days meant little to his admiring teammates after the Boston Red Sox won their season-high eighth straight game, 11-9, over the Kansas City Royals.
"Let's talk about how much courage Matt had to go out there and take that ball," catcher Jason Varitek said, asked about his grand slam in an eight-run fourth inning, Boston's biggest of the season.
Clement (11-3) allowed six runs in five innings and said he was rusty. He had thrown just 38 pitches in the previous 13 days, all July 26 at Tampa Bay before Carl Crawford's liner struck him behind the right ear in the third inning.
But he didn't appear timid against the Royals.
"I didn't know how I was going to react. I didn't feel any lingering effects," Clement said. "Regardless of the fact that I was able to get a win out of the situation, it's just the fact that I was (able) to go through the five innings and get to the 100-pitch count."
Edgar Renteria also came back from being hit, although he was struck by a teammate. The shortstop and left fielder Manny Ramirez collided in the second inning of Boston's 8-5 victory Wednesday night. Ramirez was sidelined with blurry vision, but manager Terry Francona said he might play Friday night in Minnesota.
Renteria, who had sore ribs Wednesday, had three hits and drove in four runs with two doubles.
"I don't think Edgar felt real good. He played a whale of a game," Francona said. "He's in the middle of everything good today."
Renteria's three-run double in the fourth tied the score at 5 before Leo Nunez (2-2) gave up Varitek's 17th homer of the season and first grand slam in 120 career at-bats with the bases loaded.
The Red Sox had just two hits in the inning and were helped by five walks and two errors.
Athletics vs. Royals
When: 7:10 tonight Where: Kauffman Stadium Pitchers: Kirk Saarloos (7-6) vs. Zack Greinke (3-13) TV: Sunflower Broadband Channel 6
D.J. Carrasco allowed one hit in 3 2/3 innings for Kansas City, but left after walking his seventh batter, Johnny Damon, to load the bases in the fourth. Nunez then gave up Renteria's double, walked the next two batters and allowed Varitek's grand slam on a 2-0 pitch. Varitek also doubled home Boston's final run in the eighth.
"They have a veteran lineup and I was trying to be careful where I threw," Carrasco said. "The seven walks killed us."
Curt Schilling allowed Mike Sweeney's 17th homer leading off the ninth but earned his eighth save in nine chances.
The Red Sox moved to a season-high 17 games over .500 and ended their homestand 6-0, the first time in 17 years they were unbeaten on a homestand of at least six games. The Royals finished their road trip 0-7.
"Our inexperience really showed," Kansas City manager Buddy Bell said. "We were really pitching away from contact. ... You can't do that, especially in this ballpark."
The Royals took a 1-0 lead on Matt Stairs' RBI single in the first. They made it 5-0 in the third when Emil Brown was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded and Terrence Long hit a three-run double.
In the third, Renteria doubled in Damon, who had walked, to make it 5-1.
Boston's fourth-inning rally began when Carrasco walked Varitek and Bill Mueller. Alex Cora reached second and Varitek scored when second baseman Ruben Gotay committed two errors on one play. Then Damon walked, setting the stage for the big hits by Renteria and Varitek.
Brown's RBI single made it 9-6 in the fifth before Damon singled home a run in the bottom half. Kansas City added two runs in the seventh on Stairs' RBI double and Long's run-scoring groundout.
Notes: Royals CF David DeJesus left with a mild concussion after being kneed in the head by Renteria as he stole second in the third inning. Chip Ambres replaced DeJesus. ... Boston 1B Roberto Petagine, called up from Triple-A Pawtucket on Thursday, batted fourth in place of Ramirez and went 0-for-3. ... Carrasco's previous high this year was five walks. ... Varitek extended his hitting streak to 11 games, and the Red Sox increased their single-season record to 11 grand slams.