Red Sox crown Royals, keep pace in AL East race

Jarrod Saltalamacchia belted a three-run 1.

The Red Sox have captured the first two games of this four-game series to rebound from a 1-4 stretch and remain a half-game behind the Yankees for first place in the AL East.

Andrew Miller (5-1) pitched 5 1/3 innings for the win, allowing one run on three hits, while Alfredo Aceves went the final 3 2/3 frames to earn his second save.

Red Sox prospect Ryan Lavarnway came home on Saltalamacchia's homer in the fifth after collecting his first major league hit, a single.

Jeff Francis (4-14) suffered his third straight loss and fell to 1-8 in his last 12 starts after giving up five runs on 11 hits in five innings.

The Royals had just four hits and dropped to 3-12 in their last 15 games. They fell to 1-4 on a seven-game homestand.

After Francis escaped bases-loaded jams in the first and third innings, the Royals took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the third when Mike Moustakas led off with a double, went to third on a bunt and scored on Alex Gordon's sacrifice fly.

But the Red Sox built a 5-1 lead over the next two innings.

In the fourth, Carl Crawford doubled and trotted home on Darnell McDonald's one-out triple to the left-center field wall, and McDonald's scored on Jacoby Ellsbury's sac fly to make it 2-1.

Jed Lowrie and Lavarnway led off the fifth with back-to-back singles and came home when Saltalamacchia golfed a low changeup deep over the left-field wall for his 12th homer to make it 5-1.

KC reliever Everett Teaford, who pitched three innings after Francis, hit Ellsbury to lead off the eighth, starting a two-run rally for Boston. Mike Aviles doubled and Adrian Gonzalez plated Ellsbury with a sac fly. Aviles scored on an error by Royals shortstop Alcides Escobar to make it 7-1.

Game Notes

The Red Sox improved to 38-24 on the road...Lavarnway, who was called up Thursday, was the designated hitter, the latest to fill in for the injured David Ortiz (bursitis)...Francis has just one win since June 10.