Kansas City, Mo. Terry Francona was hoping that Andrew Miller could give him about 75 pitches. Francona didn’t know how far that would take the Boston Red Sox, and he certainly wasn’t sure how effective Miller would be.
He was happy with both answers.
Miller lasted into the sixth inning despite the pitch limit and allowed the only run that the Kansas City Royals scored in Boston’s 7-1 victory Friday night. Jarrod Saltalamacchia pounded out a three-run homer before the rest of the Red Sox piled on in the later innings.
“You do well and you can say you were fresh. You struggle and you say you’re rusty,” said Miller, who made his first start since July 31 after two relief appearances. “Fortunately, I was able to say I felt fresh tonight.”
Miller (5-1) wound up throwing 83 pitches, allowing three hits and a pair of walks in 5 1-3 innings. He was rarely in trouble against the Royals’ feeble offense, winning for the first time since July 20 and giving himself a tremendous dose of confidence.
His manager, too.
“He started out, balls up a bit early in the game. Then he kind of started getting comfortable, worked down, used all his pitches and kept him off the scoreboard,” Francona said. “We’re plenty happy with how far he got in the game. We were thinking 75 pitches or so.”
Alfredo Aceves went the final 32⁄3 innings for his second save.
Adrian Gonzalez added three hits and a sacrifice fly for Boston. Jed Lowrie had a hat trick of singles, and Darnell McDonald had an RBI triple as the Red Sox piled up 13 hits.
Jacoby Ellsbury was hit in the back by a pitch from Royals reliever Everett Teaford in the eighth inning. Ellsbury walked gingerly to first base but remained in the game, and rounded the bases on Mike Aviles’ RBI double. He was removed in the bottom half of the inning.
“He’s sore,” Francona said. “We’ll check on him in the morning, but he’s sore.”
Boston (76-48) remained a half-game behind the New York Yankees in the AL East after roughing up Jeff Francis (4-14), who has just one win in his last 11 starts. The lefty was responsible for five runs on 11 hits and two walks in five innings.
Francis gave up six runs in 32⁄3 innings last Sunday against the White Sox.
“I’ve been through rough patches before,” he said. “I’m not going to waver on the approach I take. I try to go after hitters, put the pressure on them to hit the ball. That’s certainly what they did tonight — 11 hits in five innings. They put some good wood on the ball.”
Rookie DH Ryan Lavarnway, who went 0-for-4 in his debut Thursday night, grounded out in the first inning and flied out in the third, leaving the bases loaded each time. He finally singled for his first big league hit in the fifth.