Dice-K returns for Red Sox in finale with Royals

Daisuke Matsuzaka returns from the disabled list on Monday when the Boston Red Sox wrap up a four-game series with the Kansas City Royals at Fenway Park.

Matsuzaka, who has been sidelined with a neck injury, hasn't pitched since getting rocked by the Oakland Athletics back on July 2 to the tune of five runs, four hits and two walks in just one inning of work. He is 0-3 on the year and has pitched to a 6.65 ERA.

Monday will only be Matsuzaka's 14th appearance since the start of the 2011 season. He missed most of last year recovering from Tommy John surgery.

Matsuzaka is 2-1 in three starts against the Royals with a 3.63 ERA.

Boston has taken two of the first three contests of this series and on Sunday, Pedro Ciriaco went 3-for-5 with a homer, two RBI and a pair of runs to lead the Red Sox to an 8-6 win.

Dustin Pedroia also homered and Jacoby Ellsbury and Mike Aviles each had two hits and drove in a run for the Red Sox, who had lost four in a row prior to this set.

Pedro Beato (1-0) got the win despite giving up two runs on three hits in two- plus innings. Beato was recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket prior to the game.

Mark Melancon stranded a runner in the ninth to earn his first save of the season.

Lorenzo Cain hit a three-run homer and Tony Abreu had two hits and drove in a pair of runs for the Royals, who have dropped three of their last four.

Will Smith (4-6) gave up five runs -- four earned -- on nine hits and two walks to absorb the loss.

"Kept the ball down, made a couple mistakes and paid for them," Royals manager Ned Yost said of Smith.

Getting the call for the Royals in the finale will be righty Luke Hochevar, who is 7-11 with a 4.95 ERA. Hochevar did not get a decision on Tuesday against the Tampa Bay Rays, despite an outstanding effort that saw him give up just one hit and strike out 10 over eight scoreless innings. He did walk three batters and was not a factor in his team's 1-0 triumph.

"I felt like tonight was probably the best command that I've had all year with my fastball," Hochevar said.

Hochevar has faced the Red Sox six times and is 2-4 with a 6.56 ERA.

Kansas City has split its six meetings with the Red Sox this season.