KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - Luke Hochevar thought he made quality pitches to Dustin Pedroia. So did manager Ned Yost.
It didn't matter.
Pedroia drove in three runs with a pair of well-timed singles, Josh Beckett survived a shaky start to go seven innings and the Boston Red Sox got back on the winning track with a 4-3 victory over the Kansas City Royals on Thursday night.
``A lot of people have trouble solving him,' Yost said. ``I thought Luke pitched very well. Both Pedroia hits off him were good pitches. You've got to take your hat off to him. They were real good pitches. The first one was a two-seamer that was about six inches in. It was a nice piece of hitting to drive the ball up the middle. The game-winner was a cutter that was down and away.
``In crucial situations, he made pitches that you could get average hitters out with,' Yost said, ``but Pedroia is up - and this is my opinion - in that category with (New York Yankees star Robinson) Cano and some of the best hitters in the league. He's just a real, real tough out.'
Hochevar called Pedroia a nemesis.
``He hit the ball where it's pitched,' Hochevar said. ``The base hit up the middle that scored two runs, I was trying to come in off the plate for a ball and I felt like it was off the plate. He put a good swing on it.
``The slider down and away his next AB, that's what I was trying to do with it. Again he put a good swing on it. He's a good hitter. The only thing you can do is execute the pitch you're going after and I felt like both of those I did,' Hochevar added. ``That's how the game goes.'
Jason Varitek drove in the other run for the Red Sox, who had lost five of their last seven games after getting shut out by the division-rival Tampa Bay Rays on Wednesday.
Beckett (10-5) allowed all three runs in the first three innings to improve to 7-1 against Kansas City - his only loss came July 28 in Boston. He also reached the 10-win plateau after failing in his four previous attempts.
Daniel Bard worked the eighth for Boston, and Jonathan Papelbon made it through a perfect ninth to extend his career-best streak to 24 consecutive saves. It was his 29th of the season.
``Every time we go out there, we kind of expect the bullpen to be unbelievable,' Beckett said.
Hochevar (8-10) labored through 114 pitches in just six innings. The former No. 1 overall draft pick allowed all four runs on eight hits and two walks, despite getting some help from his defense.
The Royals threw out three base runners: Varitek was nabbed at second trying to stretch a single in the second inning; Crawford was thrown out by center fielder Melky Cabrera trying to score from third on a shall flyball in the fourth; and Pedroia was thrown out at second by catcher Salvador Perez, who made an alert play after a late throw to the plate on Pedroia's RBI single in the fifth.
Alex Gordon hit a tying two-run homer in the third inning for Kansas City, and he also scored on a sacrifice fly by Billy Butler in the first, playing a significant role in all the Royals' runs.
Boston didn't waste any time matching Kansas City in the second. Josh Reddick doubled leading off and came home on Varitek's two-out single. The Red Sox then pulled ahead in the third when Mike Aviles singled against his former team, Ellsbury walked, both advanced on a groundout and came scored on Pedroia's single.
Alcides Escobar led off the bottom half with a single, and Gordon followed by slapping a pitch from Beckett over the left-field wall to tie the game. His 16th homer matched a career high.
The Red Sox nearly pulled ahead in the fourth when Crawford reached on a single, swiped second base and then stole third - replays showed he should have been called out. Aviles lofted a shallow fly to center moments later, and Cabrera caught it on a jog and unloaded toward home in one motion. Perez fielded the throw, turned and braced himself as Crawford barreled into him at the plate, holding on for the out.
It was the 21st time a Royals outfielder has thrown out someone at the plate, leading the major leagues.
Undaunted, the Red Sox pulled ahead in the fifth. Jed Lowrie doubled with one out and came around to score on a two-out single by Pedroia, who added a double in the eighth inning for a three-hit game.
Beckett and the bullpen made the lead stand up the rest of the way.
NOTES: The Red Sox placed 3B Kevin Youkilis on the DL with a sore back. C Ryan Lavarnway, called up from Triple-A Pawtucket, made his major league debut as DH and went 0 for 4. ... Boston designated LHP Randy Williams for assignment to clear roster space for Lavarnway. ... Butler finished 3 for 3. ... Jeff Francis (4-13) takes the mound for Kansas City on Friday night. He goes against Boston's Andrew Miller (4-1).
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