Miley, Red Sox continue mastery over Royals

Miley, Red Sox continue mastery over Royals

BOSTON -- The Red Sox continued their recent success against the Royals by riding Wade Miley's strong pitching performance to a 4-1 victory in Thursday night's opener of a four-game series at Fenway Park.

Boston is a Major League-best 9-2 against Kansas City since the start of 2014.

The Red Sox produced a three-run rally in the third against lefty Danny Duffy to take a 4-0 lead. Ryan Hanigan (two-run single) and Jackie Bradley Jr. (RBI triple) delivered the big hits. Bradley is hitting .409 in his last 12 games.

Hanigan's two-run single

"He's just in a really good spot," Red Sox interim manager Torey Lovullo said of Bradley. "This is a wave that every player wants to get on and we're enjoying it."

Another player in that category is Travis Shaw. The rookie belted two more hits, including a double off the Green Monster, and is hitting .500 (15-for-30) over his last seven games.

Over 7 1/3 innings, Miley (10-9, 4.41 ERA), allowed six hits and a run, walking none and striking out six.

"I'm just commanding the ball a little bit better," Miley said. "When you're commanding better, you get some swings and early contact, and get deeper into ballgames."

Mike Moustakas belted a homer to right in the fifth to put the Royals on the board.

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Nifty grab by Mookie: Every night, it seems, the Red Sox get a highlight-reel play from Mookie Betts or Bradley Jr. in the outfield. This time, it was Betts who made a nice leaping grab on a liner to center on a drive by Alex Rios to end the seventh inning. It was a big play, because the Royals had two on, and both runners would likely have scored if the ball had gotten by Betts.

Betts' tough grab

"It's a lot of fun [playing with Betts]," Bradley said. "He's a guy who can go get it. Any time you have a guy like that to help the team out, pitchers love him as well. Everybody is very high on Mookie and so am I."

Moose homer: The only sign of life the Royals had offensively -- they didn't arrive at their hotel until 5:30 a.m. ET coming from a long night in Cincinnati -- was a rocket into the right-field corner by Moustakas, his 12th homer of the season. Moustakas hooked a liner around the pole in the fifth, pulling the Royals within 4-1.

Moustakas' solo shot

Royals manager Ned Yost said he didn't think the Royals played tired because of their early-morning arrival.

"No, [Miley] was good," Yost said. "He was keeping the ball down. Good sliders and good changeup."

Key punchout by Ross: With two on and two out in the eighth, Lovullo called on lefty reliever Robbie Ross, Jr. to face the dangerous Eric Hosmer. After falling behind, 2-0, Ross bounced back and struck out Hosmer on a 93-mph fastball.

Ross Jr. works out of a jam

Duffy struggles: Duffy threw almost 30 pitches in the first inning and never really regained his command. Duffy labored through five innings, throwing 98 pitches, while giving up seven hits and four runs. Duffy was close to getting out of the three-run third with no damage. With runners on second and third and two out, Duffy got the count to 0-2 against Hanigan, who promptly lined a hanging curve to center for a two-run single. More >

The Royals seemed puzzled about home-plate umpire David Rackley's low strike zone. When asked how reliever Kris Medlen fared in three shutout innings, Yost said, "He took advantage of a low strike zone."

Even Duffy was miffed when a high strike was called against Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer in the eighth. "The [called strike] to Hoz, I thought I threw that three or four times tonight," Duffy said.

WHAT'S NEXT
Royals: Right-hander Johnny Cueto (9-7, 2.46 ERA) will start the second of this four-game road set on Friday at 6:10 p.m. CT. The ace picked up wins in his last two starts, allowing one run across 17 innings, including a four-hit shutout of the Tigers on Aug. 10.

Red Sox: Left-hander Henry Owens (1-1, 6.19) will get the ball on Friday at 7:10 p.m. ET when this four-game series continues at Fenway Park. Owens collected 10 strikeouts against the Mariners on Sunday. Through three starts, he has 17 K's and six walks.

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Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brownie Points, follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and listen to his podcast. Jeffrey Flanagan is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @FlannyMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.