KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - Jonathan Sanchez had ample opportunity to ponder his start Monday night, and the beleaguered Royals starter came to the conclusion that he didn't pitch that badly against the Boston Red Sox.
Despite allowing a three-run homer to Will Middlebrooks in the first inning. And a solo shot to David Ortiz in the third. And being responsible for the first six runs in an 11-5 loss.
``What happened today, I didn't think I got hit pretty well,' said Sanchez, who was pulled from the game without retiring a batter in the third inning.
``I made a good pitch to the guy who hit the three-run home run. When he hit it, he didn't know where it was. He got lucky,' Sanchez said. ``After that, the home run Ortiz hit and that was it. I pretty much made good pitches.'
Sanchez allowed six hits and issued three walks against the Red Sox, who snapped a five-game skid despite playing 17 innings the previous night against Baltimore.
The former San Francisco Giants starter hasn't gone past five innings in his last five starts dating to last season, and is at least partly responsible for this fact: Kansas City starters have averaged fewer than five innings per start, by far the worst in the majors.
``Starting pitching sets the tone,' Royals manager Ned Yost said. ``Sanchez once again really struggled to command his fastball. His secondary stuff was decent enough. He got his pitch count way up early. They put four spot on him in the first inning. It was just a struggle for him.'
Middlebrooks added a two-run homer in the eighth inning, when the Red Sox broke open the game, and Dustin Pedroia also went deep as the team piled up 16 hits.
Middlebrooks, called up last week when Kevin Youkilis went on the disabled list, became the first player in Red Sox history with at least one extra-base hit in each of his first four major league games. He also hit a grand slam against Baltimore on Sunday.
``I just tried to carry over the way I started out this year,' he said.
Felix Doubront (2-1) allowed all five Kansas City runs over 6 1-3 innings, giving the Red Sox bullpen a much-needed rest. Boston used up every available arm against the Orioles, forcing left-fielder Darnell McDonald to finish the 9-6 defeat.
Doubront left protecting a two-run cushion with the bases loaded in the seventh inning, but Vincente Padilla got Billy Butler to chop into an inning-ending double-play to preserve the lead, and the Red Sox added four more runs in the eighth to put it away.
Padilla wrapped up the game for the 34-year-old's sixth career save.
``He did a great job to save me,' Doubront said.
Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine refused to make any roster moves to bolster the bullpen after their marathon at Fenway Park, reasoning that nobody deserved to get sent to the minors.
Doubront wasn't great, but he gave Valentine enough.
The left-hander got into trouble every inning but the fourth, yet he somehow managed to limit the damage each time. Doubront allowed seven hits and three walks.
Of course, it's easier to pitch with a lead.
Adrian Gonzalez gave him that with an RBI single in the first, but Middlebrooks piled on moments later when he belted a three-run shot that just skirted the right-field foul pole.
Kansas City got half of the runs back on an RBI groundout by Brayan Pena and a sacrifice fly by Chris Getz, but the Royals repeatedly failed to put together a big inning.
Ortiz homered to right field in the third inning. Kelly Shoppach led off the fourth with his first career triple, chasing Sanchez from the game, and Pedroia greeted reliever Nate Adcock by pounding a two-run homer into the seats in right-center field.
The Royals still trailed 7-4 when Doubront came out for the seventh inning.
He allowed a leadoff single by Pena, and one-out base hits by Alcides Escobar and Jarrod Dyson before getting Alex Gordon into an 0-2 hole. The Royals' left-fielder managed to work back for a full-count walk, bringing in a run and chasing Doubront from the game.
That's when Padilla took care of Butler with a chopping double-play groundout.
Boston piled on in the eighth inning.
Pedroia walked and Ortiz was put on base intentionally, and Cody Ross brought them home with a double to center. That's when Middlebrooks sent a pitch from reliever Tim Collins down the left-field line, the ball bouncing off the opposite foul pole from his first home run.
Boston was on cruise control after that.
``I'm proud of these guys, taking that flight here after that game last night,' Valentine said. ``I know we're talking about small victories, but it's not easy to do what they did.'
Notes: Boston RHP Daisuke Matsuzaka (Tommy John surgery) pitched 4 2-3 innings for Pawtucket on Monday in the third of his five scheduled rehab starts. ... Royals RHP Greg Holland (ribcage) left for what will likely be two rehab appearances at Double-A Northwest Arkansas. ... Boston LHP Jon Lester faces Royals LHP Bruce Chen on Tuesday night.
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