Kansas City, Mo. — From the moment Josh Beckett stepped on the mound Thursday night, something didn’t feel quite right. It wasn’t something mechanical in his delivery, though, nor was it something physical.
Turns out it was the mound itself.
The one in the bullpen at Kauffman Stadium is far steeper than the actual mound on the field, Beckett said, so it took him a while to get comfortable. He finally did and lasted seven innings, leading the Boston Red Sox to a much-needed 4-3 victory over the Kansas City Royals.
“I had to make sure I stayed on the rubber, you know?” Beckett said. “I don’t know if I’ve ever thrown somewhere where they have as drastically different bullpen from the mound.”
Beckett (10-5) allowed all three runs over the first three innings, on a two-run homer by Alex Gordon and a sacrifice fly by Billy Butler. But he was efficient and effective after that, allowing seven hits while improving to 7-1 in his career against the Royals. The only loss was July 28 in Boston.
“He left a breaking ball up to Gordon, but I mean they got a good lineup. They got a good offensive lineup. They’re aggressive,” Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. “He got us through seven with the lead.”
Dustin Pedroia drove in three runs with a pair of well-timed singles, and Jason Varitek drove in the other run for the Red Sox, who had lost five of their last seven games after getting shut out by the division-rival Tampa Bay Rays on Wednesday. It was an important win to keep pace with the New York Yankees in the AL East.
Daniel Bard worked the eighth for Boston, and Jonathan Papelbon made it through a perfect ninth to extend his career-best streak to 24 consecutive saves. It was his 29th of the season.
“Their lineup is dangerous,” Francona said. “You make a mistake and they can hurt you.”
Luke Hochevar (8-10) labored through 114 pitches in just six innings for the Royals. The former No. 1 overall draft pick allowed all four runs on eight hits and two walks, despite getting some help from his defense.