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By DAVID SMALE Associated Press
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Salvador Perez hit a line drive, three-run homer run to break open a close game and finished with four RBIs, leading the Kansas City Royals to a 7-3 win over the Boston Red Sox on Thursday night.
Perez’s blast in the seventh inning appeared to hit the wall below a railing in left field. The play was reviewed and the original call stood. The call prompted Boston manager Alex Cora to argue with home plate umpire Bill Welke, who tossed Cora.
“I saw a homer,” a smiling Perez said when asked about the call. “I looked at the umpire and he said it was a homer. So it’s a homer. I’m not going to argue with a homer.”
Even after the game, Cora maintained a different opinion.
“We all thought it was going to be overturned,” he said. “In our eyes, the ball was in the ballpark and in play. Probably a double and they score two. But not a homer.”
Bobby Witt Jr. broke a 3-all tie with an RBI single prior to Perez’s home run.
Former Royals star Eric Hosmer made his Boston debut, returning to Kauffman Stadium for the first time since the final game of the 2017 season. He finished 0 for 3 with a walk.
Taylor Clarke (3-1) earned the win, despite blowing the lead in the top of the seventh. Darwinzon Hernandez (0-1) took the loss, allowing four runs in the seventh.
Kris Bubic recorded his fourth straight quality start in a no-decision. He allowed two runs on four hits in six innings. He walked the first batter he faced and no more. He struck out six. Nick Pivetta allowed three runs on seven hits in five innings. He walked one and struck out five.
“It was the classic ‘get better as you go,’” Bubic said after the game. “Obviously, I’ve made a bad habit out of starting games poorly, but I was able to right the ship. The curveball for strikes, especially early on, kind of helped me get the command of the other two (pitches, his fastball and changeup). Once the fastball and changeup started clicking, I rolled that combo throughout the rest of the outing.”
The Red Sox led 2-0 three batters into the game. Bubic walked Jaylin Davis leading off and Davis went to third on a double by recently acquired Tommy Pham. Rafael Devers hit one down the left-field line for a two-run single. Bubic then got the next three batters to fly out.
“We’re watching our younger guys have rough starts and then turn the page,” Matheny said. “He had three quality starts in a row. That puts yourself in a bind to think you’re going to get through the sixth and keep the runs down after giving up two in the first.
“I love the style of pitching. He didn’t have his fastball early. He’s learned the lesson of the importance of his breaking ball, because his breaking ball got him back into counts.”
MJ Melendez led off the bottom of the first with a home run. Witt then reached on an infield single. He stole second, advanced to third on a fly ball to center by Perez and scored on a sacrifice fly by Vinnie Pasquantino.
Perez drove in Nicky Lopez with the go-ahead run in the fifth inning. Lopez led off the inning with a walk, but back-to-back strikeouts found him standing on first with two outs. After stealing second, he scored when Perez’s line drive was just beyond the reach of Eric Hosmer at first.
Kevin Plawecki drove in Christian Arroyo with the tying run with a two-out single in the seventh inning.
The Red Sox and Royals will play the second game of a four-game series Friday night. RHP Zack Greinke (3-6, 4.41 ERA) will start for KC against Boston’s Josh Winckowski (4-5, 5.00 ERA).