KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - Jarrod Saltalamacchia pounded out a three-run homer, left-hander Andrew Miller gave Red Sox manager Terry Francona precisely what he was looking for and Boston rolled to a 7-1 victory over the Kansas City Royals on Friday night.
Miller (5-1) allowed one run on three hits and a pair of walks over 5 1/3 innings, rarely finding himself in any trouble against the Royals' feeble offense. It was his first start since July 31 after a pair of appearances out of the bullpen, and his first victory since July 20 at Baltimore.
He was pulled after just 83 pitches because Francona knew he'd be short on stamina. Alfredo Aceves followed up with 3 2/3 innings of scoreless relief for his second save.
Adrian Gonzalez added three hits and a sacrifice fly for Boston. Jed Lowrie had a hat trick of singles, and Darnell McDonald had an RBI triple as the Red Sox piled up 13 hits.
Boston (76-48) remained a half-game behind the New York Yankees in the AL East after roughing up Jeff Francis (4-14), who has just one win in his last 11 starts. The lefty was responsible for five runs on 11 hits and two walks in five innings, his second straight miserable start.
Francis gave up six runs in 3 2/3 innings last Sunday against the White Sox.
Jacoby Ellsbury was hit by a pitch from Royals reliever Everett Teaford in the eighth inning. He walked gingerly to first base but remained in the game, and showed no problem rounding the bases on Mike Aviles' RBI double. Ellsbury was removed in the bottom half of the inning.
Rookie DH Ryan Lavarnway, who went 0 -for-4 in his debut Thursday night, grounded out in the first inning and flied out in the third, leaving the bases loaded each time. He finally singled for his first big league hit in the fifth, and the Royals made sure the ball got back to the Boston dugout.
The Royals, with the youngest lineup in the major leagues, are certainly experiencing some growing pains against the beasts from the East. The Yankees won two of three against them earlier in the week, and Boston has taken the first two games of their four-game set. Kansas City (51-75) has lost 10-of-12 overall and fallen a season-worst 24 games below .500.
The Royals struck first for the second straight night when Mike Moustakas doubled into the gap in left field leading off the third inning. He moved up to third on Salvador Perez's sacrifice bunt and scampered home when Alex Gordon lofted a shallow flyball to center.
Once again, the lead was short lived.
Carl Crawford doubled leading off the fourth and scored on McDonald's triple, and he gave Boston the lead when he came home on Ellsbury's sacrifice fly.
Boston gave its pitching staff some breathing room in the fifth. Lowrie singled for the third straight time, Lavarnway followed with a base hit, and Saltalamacchia ripped Francis' 0-2 pitch over the Royals bullpen in left field for his 12th homer of the season.
NOTES: The Royals were careful with Dustin Pedroia, who entered 12-of-22 against them this season, intentionally walking him twice. He reached on an error that scored Aviles in the eighth inning. ... The Royals have lost four of five against the Red Sox after beating them 3-1 on July 25. ... Tim Wakefield (6-5) pitches for Boston on Saturday night. He'll face Felipe Paulino (1-5).