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Royals avoid another no-hitter but fall 2-1 to Red Sox

BOSTON | No no-hitter. The Royals avoided a repeat of that indignity Tuesday night but not much else in a 2-1 loss to the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park.

This one, actually, might have generated more frustration.

The Red Sox followed Jon Lester’s gem in Monday’s series opener by summoning rookie Justin Masterson from Class AA Portland for what figures to be a one-night stand. Masterson proceeded to baffle the Royals for six shutout innings.

The Royals scored once in the seventh inning, on a two-out single by John Buck, and then put runners at first and third with one out in the eighth.

And couldn’t score the tying run.

Hideki Okajima struck out José Guillen before loading the bases by walking Mark Teahen. That brought Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon into the game to face Billy Butler.

Papelbon struck out Butler on an 87-mph slider after working the count to 1-2 on four fastballs at 97, 97, 98 and 98 mph. Papelbon then pitched a scoreless ninth for his 13th save in 15 opportunities.

Masterson, 1-0, arrived from Portland with a 1-3 record and 4.23 ERA in eight starts against Double-A competition. He limited the Royals to one run and three hits in 6 1/3 innings before Boston manager Terry Francona began shuttling in relievers.

Javier Lopez and Manny Delcarmen completed the seventh inning before Okajima entered to start the eighth.

It all amounted to a tough-luck loss for Royals starter Gil Meche, who yielded just two runs and five hits in seven innings. He struck out eight and walked two in a 119-pitch performance.

Meche, 3-6, stumbled only in a 32-pitch second inning, when the Red Sox scored both of their runs by bunching three hits and a walk. It was Meche’s fourth quality start in his last four outings and his sixth of the season.

Just another loss, though.

Both teams mustered just five hits. Alex Gordon had a double and two singles, but José Guillen struck out three times in four appearances — including a crucial swinging strikeout for the second out in the eighth with runners at first and third.

The Royals trailed 2-1 when David DeJesus opened the eighth by whacking a ground-rule double into the right-field seats against Okajima. DeJesus went to third on Mark Grudzielanek’s grounder to short.

Gordon worked a walk before Guillen struck out. Okajima walked Teahen before Papelbon entered to face Butler.

It was Gordon who ended any possibility of the Royals suffering another no-hitter when he sliced a two-out double to left field in the first inning.

Meche opened the second inning by striking out Mike Lowell before running into trouble. Kevin Youkilis and J.D. Drew followed with back-to-back singles before Jason Varitek worked a walk on a full count.

Julio Lugo produced the first run with a sacrifice fly before Coco Crisp lashed a ground-rule double to right for a 2-0 lead. All three hits, and the walk, came on two-strike counts.

The Royals threw away the chance to answer immediately in their third when Gordon committed the latest in the club’s season-long series of base-running howlers.

Grudzielanek drew a two-out walk and raced to third when Gordon lined a drive into the left-center gap. Gordon charged halfway to second before throwing on the brakes, but couldn’t scramble safely back to first.

Pedroia made a strong relay after taking the throw from Crisp and nailed Gordon.

Gordon atoned somewhat in his next at-bat when he cranked a two-out double over Crisp’s head in the sixth. Guillen followed with a strikeout.

It was that kind of night.

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