KANSAS CITY, Mo — Whit Merrifield drove in the go-ahead run in the seventh inning, Eric Hosmer hit a two-run homer and the Kansas City Royals beat the Boston Red Sox 4-2 on Monday night for their eighth win in nine games.
Jason Hammel (4-6) pitched seven sharp innings before turning it over to Mike Minor, who loaded the bases with two outs in the eighth. No. 9 hitter Christian Vazquez proceeded to send a slow bounder toward third base that Cheslor Cuthbert fielded cleanly and fired to first to end the threat.
Kelvin Herrera worked around Andrew Benintendi’s triple in the ninth for his 16th save.
Red Sox reliever Blaine Boyer (0-1), who wriggled out of a jam in the sixth, gave up Merrifield’s bouncing RBI single in the seventh. Boyer was lifted after Lorenzo Cain added an insurance run with a single, the second straight night Boston’s stingy bullpen has allowed a pair of runs.
Red Sox relievers had thrown 26 straight scoreless innings before the slump.
Hammel scattered seven hits without a walk, stranding seven along the way, and the only damage against him came in the fourth inning. That’s when he gave up a leadoff single to Hanley Ramirez, and hot-hitting Jackie Bradley Jr. sent a 1-0 pitch over the bullpen in right field for a two-run homer that tied the game.
It was the third straight start in which Hammel pitched into the seventh.
Boston right-hander Hector Velazquez was nearly as good as Hammel in his second career start, carefully navigating a bunch of baserunners during the first two innings. Hosmer finally dinged him in the third with an estimated 446-foot shot to center, a line drive that cleared the seats and landed in the fountains.
Velazquez turned it over to his faltering bullpen after giving up five hits in 5 1/3 innings.
Red Sox: 2B Dustin Pedroia was out of the lineup after getting hit in the ribs by a pitch Sunday in Houston. An MRI came back negative, and manager John Farrell said Pedroia is day to day. … LHP Eduardo Rodriguez (right knee) will face hitters this week before embarking on a rehab assignment.
Royals: C Salvador Perez got a planned night off, though it came at an opportune time. Perez has been dealing with soreness in his side that could result in a couple more days off.
SIGN ON THE LINE
The Royals and first-round draft pick Nick Pratto agreed to a contract that includes a $3.45 million signing bonus. The high school first baseman, chosen with the 14th overall selection, will head to rookie ball in Arizona on Tuesday to begin his professional career.
Royals RHP Kevin McCarthy was recalled from Triple-A Omaha and LHP Eric Skoglund was optioned back to the Storm Chasers before the game. McCarthy is in his second stint with the club this season.
Red Sox: LHP Chris Sale comes off his best start in more than a month — and his first defeat — when he takes the mound Tuesday. The major league leader in strikeouts allowed one run and four hits over eight innings with 10 strikeouts in a 1-0 loss at Philadelphia last Thursday.
Royals: LHP Matt Strahm makes his second career start after allowing one unearned run over five innings in a 7-2 win against the Angels last week. Strahm retired 14 of the final 16 batters he faced.