The surging Kansas City Royals aren't making up any ground on the AL Central leaders, but they're certainly making a strong push for a wild-card spot.
They'll go for their 15th win in 17 games Friday night when they face the AL East-leading Boston Red Sox, who are hoping for another solid start from newcomer Jake Peavy .
Losers of five in a row heading into the All-Star break, the Royals (59-53) have opened the second half with six straight series wins - their longest such streak since reeling off nine in a row 22 years ago. Led by 7 2-3 shutout innings from Bruce Chen , homers from Billy Butler and Justin Maxwell , and two RBIs from Mike Moustakas , Kansas City improved to 16-4 since the break with Thursday's 5-1 series-opening victory.
The Royals, though, have dropped a half-game in the standings to Central-leading Detroit in the second half, as the Tigers have won 12 straight.
Kansas City has still climbed within 4 1/2 of the second wild card.
The Royals go for a fourth consecutive victory over the Red Sox (70-47) with Ervin Santana (8-6, 2.97 ERA) on the mound.
The right-hander, like the Royals, has been on a roll since the break, going 3-0 with a 1.27 ERA ERA in four starts - all Kansas City victories. Santana was sharp in Sunday's 6-2 road win over the New York Mets , permitting one run in six innings."Keep the ball down, throw strikes, and that's it," he said. "That's what I know I can do."
The Red Sox, two games ahead of second-place Tampa Bay in the East, knew what Peavy (9-4, 4.14 ERA) could do when they acquired him from the Chicago White Sox in a three-team deal July 30. That move paid off for Boston on Saturday when the 2007 NL Cy Young winner struck out seven while giving up two runs in seven-plus innings of a 5-2 victory over Arizona."Outstanding debut for us," manager John Farrell said. "He was effective, as advertised."
Peavy, going for a season-best fourth straight winning start since missing nearly seven weeks with a broken rib, gets his second look at the Royals in 2013. He threw six innings of two-run ball in his season debut, a 5-2 win over Kansas City on April 3, after losing his previous six decisions to the Royals.
Peavy owns a 5.55 ERA while losing each of his last four starts at Kauffman Stadium.
The Royals have outscored opponents 37-16 while winning six of seven at home. Eric Hosmer is batting .429 during this span with three homers and nine RBIs.
Butler, 10 for 25 in those contests, has the highest career batting average off Peavy (.400) among players who have faced him more than 29 times. Butler, though, was hitless in three at-bats in that matchup April 3.
Boston's Stephen Drew will try to extend his season-best hitting streak to 10. He had an RBI single in the ninth inning Thursday after hitting a go-ahead three-run homer in the ninth inning of Wednesday's 7-5 win at Houston.
Drew is hitless in five at-bats off Santana, who ended Boston's season-best seven-game winning streak April 21 with seven innings of two-run ball in a 4-2 victory.
David Ortiz , 2 for 3 against Santana in that contest, should return to the Red Sox's lineup after getting Thursday off. He's 8 for 9 in his last two games.
|Boston Red Sox|
|August 05, 2013||Matt Thornton||15-Day DL||Strained right oblique|
|August 04, 2013||Matt Thornton||Day-to-Day||Right oblique soreness|
|July 19, 2013||Shane Victorino||Day-to-Day||Left game - left hamstring tightness|
|July 13, 2013||Andrew Bailey||15-Day DL||Right shoulder strain|
|July 09, 2013||Alex Wilson||15-Day DL||Sprained right thumb|
|July 08, 2013||Jacoby Ellsbury||Day-to-Day||Sore left wrist|
|Kansas City Royals|
|August 04, 2013||David Lough||Day-to-Day||Right quad tightness|
|August 04, 2013||Salvador Perez||7-Day DL||Concussion|
|July 28, 2013||Chris Getz||15-Day DL||Left knee sprain|
|July 20, 2013||Chris Getz||Day-to-Day||Left knee sprain|
|July 03, 2013||Alex Gordon||Day-to-Day||Left game - head|
|June 29, 2013||Justin Maxwell||7-Day DL||Mild concussion|
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -- Justin Maxwell has provided a huge boost for Kansas City since coming over from the Astros.
Maxwell homered and then singled twice in a six-run sixth as the Kansas City Royals rallied for a 9-6 victory over the Boston Red Sox on Friday night.
The Royals have won 15 of their past 17 games to move seven games above .500, matching their best record of the season. They are 4 1-2 games back in the wild-card standings.
"It's just team chemistry, no matter who's at the plate or who's on the mound, we all have each other's backs," Maxwell said. "That's the main thing."
Maxwell, who the Royals acquired on July 31 from the Astros for a minor league pitcher, homered leading off the second.
With the Royals trailing 6-3 in the sixth, he led off the inning with a single. The Royals sent 11 men to the plate in the inning against Red Sox pitchers Jake Peavy , Drake Britton and Pedro Beato .
"I led off, just trying to get on base, not do too much," Maxwell said. "It was just one good at-bat after another good at-bat. I think that's how you roll."
Maxwell was making his first start in center and only his fourth start since joining the Royals, but manager Ned Yost promises he will be seeing plenty more action.
"He's got the opportunity to change the game with one swing," Yost said. "We'll keep running him out there."
Peavy, who was making his second Red Sox start since being acquired in a July 30 trade from the Chicago White Sox, yielded singles to Maxwell, Mike Moustakas and Alcides Escobar to start the inning. Escobar's RBI single finished Peavy.
"With the way Jake had settled in, he had good innings in the fourth and fifth, and we'd gained momentum for ourselves, he probably had one inning left with his pitch count," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "I'm not going to say it was surprising, but he left some balls up and they made him pay.
"The put away pitch was a challenge for how they put the ball in play and go the other way. We just couldn't stop the momentum in the sixth."
Eric Hosmer 's two-run single with two outs off Britton put the Royals on top 7-6. David Lough contributed a sacrifice fly, while Billy Butler doubled home Hosmer. Maxwell's second single in the inning scored Butler with the final run.
Mike Napoli , a career .368 hitter off Royals right-hander Ervin Santana , cleared the bases with a two-out third inning three-run double.
That ended Santana's night. He gave up six runs on nine hits, including David Ortiz 's 22nd home run in the third, in 3 2/3 innings, his shortest outing of the season.
"It's the best feeling," Santana said. "It doesn't matter how we got there, we won."
Peavy lasted five innings, plus three batters, allowing six runs on 10 hits.
"I just didn't make a whole lot of consistent pitches," Peavy said. "I had Maxwell 0-2 and threw him a changeup and he did a nice job (to start the sixth).
"You've got to win games when your offense scores six. I didn't feel good stuff-wise or control-wise. They battled and put the ball in play for being as free-swinging as they are. My stuff wasn't very sharp."
Francisley Bueno (1-0), who was just promoted Thursday from Triple-A Omaha, picked up the victory with 2 1-3 scoreless innings. He has two big league wins, both against the Red Sox.
Britton (1-1) was charged with the loss.
The Royals' 16-hit attack, included three hits each by Butler, Hosmer and Maxwell. Alex Gordon had two hits, including his 12th home run.
Greg Holland worked the ninth for his 31st save in 33 chances.
"It was a fantastic win," Yost said. "A night when Ervin didn't have his command, but our offense picked him up. Our bullpen again was dynamite."
Notes: Red Sox C David Ross , who has been out since June 18 with a concussion, could start rehabbing with Tuesday with Double-A Portland if he gets the final approval. He has been cleared by Dr. Michael Collins, a concussion specialist in Pittsburgh, and the results were forwarded to Major League Baseball, which has the final word. If all goes well, Ross could be activated Aug. 19, the first day he is eligible. ... Royals All-Star C Salvador Perez is progressing in his on-the-field activities and manager Ned Yost is hopeful he'll get the clearance to play Sunday, the first day he is eligible. ... After an appeal from the Royals, MLB reversed two Mets scorings calls from Sunday, giving Alex Gordon and Lorenzo Cain hits on "sun balls" that were first called errors.