The four-game series wraps up on Sunday afternoon with the Royals holding a two-to-one advantage. Despite the loss, the Royals still have won 15 of their last 18 games.
"It was definitely a nice win for us. All three games have been a dogfight," said Red Sox center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury. "They're playing real well and I feel like we're playing well. Now we've got to try and split the series."
Ellsbury went 4-for-4 and drove in two runs against Royals starter Jeremy Guthrie. That upped his already sizable career average against Guthrie to .435 (20-for-46). Ellsbury finished 4-for-5 after a flyout in the ninth against lefty Donnie Joseph.
"He's tough," Guthrie said. "I felt like I executed a couple pitches. The infield single that kind of chopped over the mound, that was a good pitch but, with his speed and his ability to put wood on the ball, he's a tough hitter. He's always been tough for me and I didn't execute very well."
Ellsbury bowed in Guthrie's direction as well.
"I was looking at my at-bats in the past against him and it's just one of those things, because he has very good stuff," Ellsbury said. "He's a competitor out there. It's just one of those baseball things that has worked out in my favor."
Guthrie had to throw a lot of pitches in the first three innings, even though there was no score, and in the fourth inning the Red Sox found some they liked to hit.
After a walk and an out in the fourth, they rattled off four straight hits and emerged with a 4-0 lead. Jarrod Saltalamacchia singled and Stephen Drew got an RBI double on a liner that dropped just in front of right fielder Justin Maxwell.
"I had a good bead on it," Maxwell said. "I heard Miggy [second baseman Miguel Tejada ] call 'In!' and on my way in, I just lost it in the lights. So at that point, I just tried to keep it in front of me and it just bounced over my glove."
Maxwell, a Trade Deadline acquisition from the Astros, was playing just his third game in right field at Kauffman Stadium.
"Playing the corners for a few night games and that's the first time that's happened. Even when I played in Houston it was a regular thing playing the corners," he said. "It was just one of those things. You try to do your best and I just wish I could've made that play for 'J' because he was battling."
Center fielder Jarrod Dyson retrieved the ball. Will Middlebrooks followed with a two-run single down the right-field line and Ellsbury launched a run-scoring double into the right-center gap.
The pitches mounted quickly for Guthrie.
"I was surprised," he said. "I looked up in the fourth, maybe after Middlebrooks' at-bat and I felt like I was at 50 or 60, and I saw 84. So, I knew I was in trouble not only in terms of the scoring but the pitch count. It really surprised me because I felt much stronger than 84 or 86 pitches and that's ultimately what allowed me to go a little deeper."
Guthrie went six innings and threw a career-high 123 pitches but outlasted the Red Sox starter, left-hander Felix Doubront, who was pulled in the bottom of the fifth during a Royals rally. For a little while, it looked like it might be a re-run of the game-winning six-run sixth inning of Friday night's 9-6 victory.
"It looked like it for a little bit," the Royals' Eric Hosmer said. "Their bullpen did a great job of coming in and stopping it."
The inning began with Alcides Escobar's walk, followed by back-to-back RBI doubles by Hosmer and Billy Butler. When Alex Gordon's single sent Butler to third, Doubront was relieved by right-hander Brandon Workman. He struck out Maxwell, but Tejada lined an RBI single to center.
With Mike Moustakas at the plate, Gordon and Tejada pulled off a double steal to put two runners in scoring position with one out. But Workman cut the rally short by retiring Moustakas and Brett Hayes. So the Royals still trailed, but just 4-3.
"It was a nice little rally to get us back to just down one at that point," Yost said.
Just not big enough.
Guthrie got through six innings, but not before the Red Sox added a run as Middlebrooks beat out a two-out grounder for a single and scored on Ellsbury's double to deep left-center. On the play, Ellsbury was thrown out at third base to end the inning.
In relief of Guthrie, Luke Hochevar pitched one scoreless inning and just-recalled rookie Joseph shut out the Red Sox for two innings. The bullpen has given up just one run in its last 18 innings.
But the Red Sox relievers were tough as well.
Butler opened the Royals' seventh with a double off reliever Junichi Tazawa, but nothing developed. In the eighth, Brett Hayes doubled off the left-field wall against Tazawa with one out but was stranded. And, in the ninth, closer Koji Uehara put the heart of the Royals' order down in the order for his 12th save.
The majority of the sellout crowd stayed around for the final outs, yearning for another comeback victory.
"That was pretty fun," Hosmer said. "There weren't many seats open it looked like, but that was a fun atmosphere to play in and hopefully tomorrow there'll be just as many."
"It was a good crowd," Butler said. "There was a lot of energy out there, they were helping us out. We just couldn't pull this one out, but we'll get 'em tomorrow."