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Beckett baffles Royals, Red Sox win, 8-2

It’s been a couple of weeks since the Royals turned in an absolute clunker. But, boy, this qualifies. Tuesday’s 8-2 loss to the Boston Red Sox was like a bad dining experience that got worse with every course.

Boston starter Josh Beckett had lost his last three starts, so the law of averages suggested he was due to dial up the sort of performance he often displays in postseason.

Close enough.

Beckett, 10-8, limited the Royals to two runs and four hits while striking out seven in 6 2/3 dominant innings. That delighted the heavy Red Sox contingent in the crowd of 22,069.

Boston backed Beckett with a 13-hit attack that made things easy. Every starter except Mike Lowell had at least one hit, and Lowell still managed to score twice. Mike Timlin and Chris Smith closed out the victory by combining for 2 1/3 innings of scoreless relief.

The loss was just the second for the Royals in nine games.

Royals starter Brian Bannister, 7-10, avoided the big inning but labored through 87 pitches before departing with no outs in the fifth. He gave up three runs and six hits and remains winless in seven starts since June 23.

The Red Sox put the game by playing whack-a-mole with Leo Nuñez in the sixth and seventh. Nuñez gave up five runs and seven hits in 1 1/3 innings. Two runs were unearned but all were deserved.

It made for a long night for bench coach Dave Owen, who ran the Royals while manager Trey Hillman served a one-game suspension imposed earlier in the day for his role in Sunday’s on-field brawl with the Chicago White Sox.

Catcher Miguel Olivo and pitcher Zack Greinke received five-game bans along with fines of $2,000 and $1,500. Both plan to appeal, which puts a hold on the punishments until the process plays out.

This one would have been a good one to miss, though.

The Red Sox scored single runs in the first, fourth and fifth innings in building a 3-1 lead against Bannister. Any thoughts of a comeback evaporated when Nuñez took his beating.

Jason Bay paced Boston’s balanced attack with four hits, including two run-scoring doubles. Jacoby Ellsbury and Kevin Youkilis each had two hits. Six different players scored runs; five had RBIs.

The victory allowed Boston to remain three games behind first-place Tampa Bay in the American League East Division.

Alex Gordon had two of the Royals’ five hits but also committed two errors at third base. The Royals got their runs on Mark Teahen had an RBI double in the first inning, and Mitch Maier’s RBI single in the seventh.

Beckett had lost his last three starts and yielded a season-high eight runs last Wednesday in just 5 1/3 innings against the Los Angeles Angels.

This wasn’t that guy.

Beckett allowed just one tainted run in the first six innings before departing with two on and two outs in the seventh after 90 pitches. Timlin yielded Maier’s RBI single before finishing the inning.

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