BOSTON -- Right-hander Yordano Ventura turned in his third straight strong start, allowing just one run over six innings, and Salvador Perez belted a three-run homer as the Royals topped the Red Sox, 6-3, on Saturday night at Fenway Park to maintain their 12 1/2-game lead over the Twins in the American League Central.
Ventura, who has given up just three runs in his last 19 innings, gave up six hits, walked one and struck out six Boston batters.
"Good breaking ball. Good fastball. Good changeup," Royals manager Ned Yost said of Ventura. "Looks to me like he's starting to get his swagger back. He's executing his pitches and getting his confidence back."
The Red Sox rallied in the ninth against Kansas City's vaunted bullpen, even loading the bases and bringing the potential go-ahead run to the plate in Travis Shaw. However, Shaw popped up against closer Greg Holland to end the game.
"What I also want to mention is that against this bullpen that is very successful and having a great year, we brought the winning run up to home plate," said Red Sox interim manager Torey Lovullo. "We didn't shut down, and that was something that was pretty special tonight."
Yost said he wasn't worried.
"I thought Holly had it handled," he said.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Quick start: The Royals were frustrated from a poor all-around performance in Friday's 7-2 loss, and many vowed before Saturday's game they would play cleaner. And it didn't take long to notice. The first five hitters hit line drives off Barnes, though the first two were caught. Then Lorenzo Cain laced a single to right. On a hit and run, Eric Hosmer ripped a single to left-center. Kendrys Morales then unloaded a two-run double high off the wall in left and the Royals had a 2-0 lead.
Barnes again inconsistent: In his second Major League start, Boston's Matt Barnes was as inconsistent as he was in his first five days earlier. The righty gave up two in the first and then settled down nicely with four straight scoreless frames. But in the sixth, Barnes got into trouble and couldn't minimize the damage, giving up a three-run homer to Perez that made it a 5-0 game. With Rick Porcello set to come back to the rotation Wednesday, Barnes is likely to odd man out.
"Unfortunately, he made a mistake to Perez," said Lovullo. "The ball was supposed to be off the plate. It was on the plate. And you make those types of mistakes to those types of hitters, you're going to pay for it. Overall, I thought Barnesy threw the ball very, very well. He had a couple of innings that were responsible for what happened. That first inning, giving up a couple of runs, and then that big three-run home run. And we couldn't overcome that."
Going oppo: Two of several Royals who have been scuffling lately -- Perez and Mike Moustakas -- have been guilty of being too pull-happy in recent weeks. But when the Royals broke the game open in the sixth, both Perez and Moustakas went the opposite way. First, Moustakas singled sharply to left after Morales had walked. Then Perez waited back and belted a three-run homer to right field to give the Royals a 5-0 lead at the time. It was Perez's 18th homer, a career high.
Perez said he really had no intention of going opposite field.
"No, I was just looking for a fastball," Perez said. "I just swung as hard as I could. I knew I got all of it when I hit it."
Mookie ends power outage with missile: Though Mookie Betts has been making plenty of contributions to the Red Sox, his power stroke had been missing. In the bottom of the seventh, Betts hit a towering shot to the back row of the Monster Seats for his first home run in 102 at-bats, going back to July 10. It was No. 11 on the season for Betts.
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Royals second baseman Omar Infante's sixth-inning single snapped an 0-for-31 skid. The club record is 44 by Joe Keough in 1969.
JBJ's NIGHTLY HIGHLIGHT
It seems that every time Jackie Bradley Jr. is in the lineup for the Red Sox, he makes a great play. Saturday was no exception, as the right fielder raced to the corner in right and perfectly timed his jump to make a leaping catch in front of the stands on the foul side of Pesky's Pole. More >
WHAT'S NEXT Royals: Right-hander Edinson Volquez (11-7, 3.20 ERA) takes the hill in the series finale. Volqeuz is the AL leader in wins, quality starts (14) and strikeouts (114). In his last outing Tuesday against Cincinnati, he gave up just one run over six innings.
Red Sox: Lefty Eduardo Rodriguez takes the ball in Sunday's finale of this 10-game homestand. Rodriguez was electric last time out, going a career-high eight innings and giving up six hits and one run while walking none and striking out five. First pitch is scheduled for 1:35 p.m. ET.