When you get a 4-0 lead after three innings against the lowly, light-hitting Kansas City Royals, you are supposed to win.
Not so last night, as the bullpen had a serious meltdown, as Manny Delcarmen, Justin Masterson and Ramon Ramirez all were awful, and let a 5-3 lead turn into an 8-6 loss at Fenway.
Brad Penny struggled through five innings, giving up three runs, but left with a lead. David Ortiz blasted his 11th dinger of the year and his 300th of his MLB career, and it was 3-0 after one. It looked like the Sox would coast into a win when it was 4-0 after three, but KC came back with three off Penny in the fourth.
Delcarmen allowed two runs, the first he's allowed since mid-June. Masterson gave up a homer to David DeJesus and two more runs in the four-run sixth. Masterson continues to struggle since that meltdown in Baltimore over a week ago.
The only bright note after Penny left was Daniel Bard, who struck out three of the four batters he faced in the final 1 1/3 innings of the game.
Some other nice signs in this game was Dustin Pedroia's three hits, his fourth home run of 2009 and two runs scored, and Kevin Youkilis' two hits and two runs scored. Dusty now leads the AL with 14 three-hit games. Papi's blast was his third in his last 19 at-bats, and he now has 44 RBI on the year.
The Red Sox are now 3-4 on this 10-game homestand against some of the weaker sisters of the AL. Kansas City is 13th in the AL in hitting and last in runs scored as well.
The All-Star break simply can't come any sooner. The Minnesota Twins rolled over like dogs against New York, 6-4, getting swept at home (and have lost all seven games to them this season), so the Red Sox and Yankees are tied atop the AL East today.
Jon Lester will pitch for the Red Sox tonight against the Royals, while New York opens a series in Anaheim against the Angels.