Paxton and four relievers combine for seven-hit shutout as Red Sox beat Royals
BOSTON (AP) — James Paxton worked 5 1/3 scoreless innings and five Boston pitchers combined for the seven-hit shutout as the Red Sox beat the Kansas City Royals 2-0 on Thursday night.
John Schreiber, Josh Winckowski and Chris Martin followed Paxton, and Kenley Jansen retired the side in order in the ninth inning for his 25th save as Boston moved five games over .500 at 60-55 and took three of four games from the Royals.
“Very confident handing the ball to those guys,” Paxton said. “We’ve got a talented group out there and doing really well.”
For the second straight night, the Red Sox turned to the same four members of the bullpen, and with each pitcher able to keep the Royals off the scoreboard. Winchowski, Martin and Jansen each struck out two, while Schreiber stranded a runner at third base to end the sixth.
“They attacked the zone with good stuff and we were able to close it,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said.
Alex Verdugo hit a sacrifice fly in the fourth inning to give Boston a 1-0 lead and Adam Duvall added an RBI double in the fifth.
Trevor Story doubled to straightaway center in the fourth for his first hit in nine at-bats since returning from the injured list.
“He was able to catch up on a fastball on an 0-2 count after seeing all those sliders,” Cora said. “The walk was also good. Just keep grinding and keep going.”
In the fifth inning as rain fell at Fenway Park, Duvall’s hit was originally ruled a foul ball by third base umpire Emil Jimenez. But Cora decided to challenge the call and it was overturned following a review.
Paxton (7-3), who allowed three homers in his previous start against Toronto, scattered six hits with six strikeouts and no walks. The 34-year-old left-hander was helped by a sliding catch by Verdugo that led to an inning-ending 9-3 double play in the second.
“He saved me with that nice play,” Paxton said of Verdugo’s grab and throw that doubled up Kansas City’s M.J. Melendez at first.
Austin Cox and Taylor Hearn worked the first three innings for Kansas City (37-80). Alec Marsh (0-6) went the final five innings, allowing two runs while striking out three.
“I thought he (Marsh) threw the ball well. Five innings allowing two runs, that’s a quality start right there,” said Cox, who served as the opener.
The Red Sox improved to 9-1 this season wearing their yellow “City Connect” uniforms. Boston is 24-5 all-time in the uniforms.
Maikel Garcia wasted little time extending his hitting streak to a career-best 14 games. The Kansas City third baseman jumped on the game’s first pitch and singled sharply on the ground to left field. It’s the longest hitting streak by a KC player since 2019, when Whit Merrifield had a 15-game run.
Red Sox: Friday will mark Chris Sale’s first start for Boston since exiting his June 1 appearance with left shoulder inflammation. Before Thursday’s game, Cora says the plan is for Sale to pitch four innings. “Just to have him back, that’s huge for us,” Cora said. … INF Justin Turner (heel) wasn’t in the starting lineup for the third straight game. He has now missed six of the past nine games since the injury occurred on July 31. … Cora says there’s a good chance that RHP Garrett Whitlock (elbow) will be activated on Sunday. … RHP Tanner Houck (facial fracture) was supposed to make a second rehab outing for Triple-A Worcester on Thursday, but the game was rained out. He’s now scheduled to pitch for the WooSox on Friday.
Royals: Kansas City hasn’t announced a starter for Friday’s home game against St. Louis. The Cardinals plan to start right-hander Adam Wainwright (3-6, 7.81).
Red Sox: Continue a 10-game homestand Friday with the first of three against Detroit. Chris Sale is scheduled to start for Boston against Tigers left-hander Tarik Skubal (2-1, 3.67).
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