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Butler’s Late HR Sinks Red Sox

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KANSAS CITY, MO - MAY 08: Billy Butler #16 of the Kansas City Royals is congratulated by teammates after hitting a 3-run home run during the 8th inning of the game against the Boston Red Sox on May 8, 2012 at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

KANSAS CITY, MO – MAY 08: Billy Butler #16 of the Kansas City Royals is congratulated by teammates after hitting a 3-run home run during the 8th inning of the game against the Boston Red Sox on May 8, 2012 at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

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By DAVE SKRETTA
AP Sports Writer

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) _ Billy Butler isn’t the fastest guy on
the base paths by any stretch, so the chances of him hitting into a
double play are pretty good if he puts the ball on the ground.

Maybe that’s why he was so keen on popping a pitch over the
outfield wall instead.

The lumbering designated hitter’s three-run shot in the eighth
inning Tuesday night boosted the Kansas City Royals a 6-4 victory
over the Red Sox, putting them in position to finish a seven-game
homestand against Boston and the New York Yankees with a winning
record.

“The way things have been going, we haven’t been coming back in
games. Hopefully that gets us going,” Butler said. “Hopefully we
can feed off that.”

Chris Getz and Humberto Quintero also drove in runs for the
Royals, who overcame another lousy performance by their starting
pitcher to pick up a confidence-boosting win.

Daniel Bard (2-4) walked Jarrod Dyson and Alex Gordon to start
the eighth before giving way to reliever Matt Albers. His third
pitch to Butler was right in his wheelhouse, and Butler sent it
soaring into the fountains beyond the left-field wall.

It was his sixth homer of the year.

“It was huge,” Royals manager Ned Yost said afterward.

Kelvin Herrera and Jose Mijares (2-1) had kept Kansas City in
the game after Danny Duffy lasted just 4 1-3 innings. Jonathan
Broxton worked the ninth for his sixth save.

“It was my worst outing of the year,” Duffy said. “My
teammates had my back the whole time and Billy hit that bomb, I was
the happiest guy in the world.”

Dustin Pedroia had two RBIs and Kelly Shoppach also drove in a
run as Boston lost for the sixth time in seven games, two of those
defeats coming in extra innings.

Bard ended up with a memorable line: He gave up five runs on six
hits and four walks, while also throwing a wild pitch and getting
called for two balks during the same at-bat.

“It was really weird,” he said. “I can’t remember the last
time I balked in my life, ever. I don’t think I’ve done it in the
big leagues.”

Boston rookie Will Middlebrooks followed up his two-homer,
five-RBI game in the series opener with a double in the second
inning, joining Hall of Famer Enos Slaughter as the only players
since at least 1920 to record an extra-base hit in each of their
first five major league games.

Marlon Byrd and Shoppach added back-to-back two-out singles to
drive in Middlebrooks, who felt tightness in his left hamstring and
left the game between half innings. Duffy proceeded to walk Mike
Aviles and Pedroia to give the Red Sox a 2-0 lead.

Kansas City answered with three runs in the bottom half of the
second inning.

Eric Hosmer singled and Jeff Francoeur drew a walk before Mike
Moustakas grounded out to second base, hustling down the line to
avoid the double play. That’s when Bard was hit with his first
balk, which allowed Hosmer to score and sent Moustakas to second
base.

Bard argued vehemently with plate umpire Tim Tschida to no
avail.

The young right-hander really got riled up when he stepped off
the rubber and tried to chase Moustakas back to second base. Bard
was hit with another balk, allowing Moustakas to reach third, and
the mistake proved critical when Getz’s single tied the game.

“They probably get one or two either way,” Bard said. “I just
tried to settle back in. I knew I was still making good pitches. I
wasn’t going to let that take me out of my game completely.”

Quintero’s two-out base hit gave Kansas City the lead, but the
plodding catcher _ with one career stolen base _ ended the inning
when he was thrown out trying to swipe second.

Duffy could have used some more support the way he was going.

Pedroia knotted the game in the fourth with a single, and the
Red Sox pulled ahead in the fifth thanks to more erratic pitching
and some lousy Kansas City defense.

Adrian Gonzalez doubled and Nick Punto walked with one out, and
Duffy was yanked for reliever Kelvin Herrera. He got Ryan Sweeney
to ground into what should have been an inning-ending double play,
but Getz threw wide of Hosmer at first base, allowing Gonzalez to
score.

The Red Sox remained in front until Butler’s game-changing
homer.

“I’m just going to let Big Bill do what Big Bill does,” Yost
said, “hit one in the gap _ and he did a little more than that.”

Notes: Boston 3B Kevin Youkilis (lower-back strain) exercised
before the game. He’s eligible to come off the DL on Monday, though
manager Bobby Valentine isn’t sure if that will happen. CF Jacoby
Ellsbury (dislocated right shoulder) also worked out. “This is the
beginning of the next step in his program,” Valentine said. …
The Royals recalled RHP Vin Mazzaro from Triple-A Omaha and
optioned LHP Tommy Hottovy to the same club. … LHP Jon Lester
(1-2, 4.62 ERA) starts the series finale on Wednesday for Boston.
LHP Bruce Chen (0-4, 4.98)) takes the mound for Kansas City.

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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