The Kansas City Royals continue to shock and amaze as they prepare to confront the Boston Red Sox in the third contest of a four-game series at Kauffman Stadium.
Kansas City, which hasn't won a division title since 1985, has been keeping the rest of the American League Central on their toes by winning three straight and eight of the last 10. The squad is still 7 1/2 games out of first in the division and third in the standings behind both Detroit and Cleveland, but don't tell that to the Red Sox, who have dropped the first two games of this series.
On Thursday the Sox bowed in a 5-1 decision to begin the series, then on Friday the visitors was taken down in a 9-6 final after KC posted six runs in the six inning to assume control.
"That's why they call us the 'Comeback Kids,'" left fielder Alex Gordon said.
The Royals pounded out 16 hits, with home runs being delivered by Gordon and Justin Maxwell, the latter matching Eric Hosmer and Billy Butler with three hits in the meeting. Maxwell and Hosmer both knocked in a pair of runs, as did David Lough for the hosts.
It was the Royals' 35th comeback win of the year, something that sounds surreal but isn't all that surprising to the KC players.
"We have a lot of heart and we go out every day and try to win a ballgame no matter how many outs are left," said Mike Moustakas.
Ervin Santana started for the Royals on the mound, but lasted just 3 2/3 innings after giving up six runs on nine hits and a couple of walks. Francisley Bueno was awarded the win after permitting just one hit over 2 1/3 innings, while Greg Holland captured his 31st save.
Boston starter Jake Peavy didn't factor into the decision as he was knocked around for six runs on 10 hits in only five innings. Drake Britton was charged with the loss as he allowed two runs on one hit and a walk, retiring just two batters in the sixth inning.
"I take the blame," Peavy said. "Your offense can't score six runs and you not win a game that you start. I didn't feel good stuff-wise or command-wise. There were a lot of two-strike hits and my stuff just wasn't sharp at all."
Mike Napoli knocked in three of the six runs for the Red Sox, who are now two games up on Tampa Bay for first place in the AL East. Jarrod Saltalamacchia pitched in with two hits and David Ortiz connected on his 22nd home run of the season during the team's second straight setback.
Heading to the hill in search of his fifth win in as many starts, Jeremy Guthrie takes the ball for the streaking Royals tonight. With just one winning season prior to this year, the right-hander is well on his way to achieving that feat once more, considering he has already established a career-high for wins in a season with 12 in 2013.
Guthrie pitched a gem in his last outing on Monday, going the distance against Minnesota as he allowed just four hits and a walk, striking out seven, in a 13-0 romp at home. The victory was the fifth in the last six decisions overall for the Stanford product.
Knocked around for four runs on nine hits and a season-high four walks in his only other meeting versus Boston this season back on April 21, Guthrie has a career mark of only 3-8 with a 4.94 ERA in 21 all-time appearances versus the Red Sox.
Countering for the visitors will be Felix Doubront as he attempts to win for the second time in as many appearances. The left-hander went up against Arizona last weekend, holding the Diamondbacks scoreless over seven innings as he scattered five hits and struck out five in a 4-0 win for Boston.
Doubront, who is 4-2 on the road so far this season, has a 1-0 mark in his career versus Kansas City, to go along with a 5.56 ERA.
Kansas City has come out on the losing end of the season series with the Red Sox in each of the previous three years, but at the moment the Royals own a 4-1 edge this season.