Red Sox 5, Royals 1

All the offseason work, rehab starts and minor league outings

finally paid off for Daisuke Matsuzaka.

Matsuzaka returned from the disabled list with his best start of

the season and Cody Ross drove in three runs, leading the Boston

Red Sox to a 5-1 win over the Kansas City Royals on Monday.

Starting the season on the DL after Tommy John surgery in June,

Matsuzaka (1-3) earned his first big league win since May 16 of

last season.

The Japanese right-hander made eight rehab starts before he

rejoined the rotation in June, but went back on the DL in early

July with a strained neck muscle. Then it was back to the minors

for another five starts.

”I tried back in June and I didn’t get the results I wanted. I

didn’t feel like I’d be able to come back strong again this

season,” he said through a translator. ”I went back to my final

two rehab starts and threw the ball really well. I knew if I could

do that up here the results would come.”

Matsuzaka gave up an unearned run and five hits, walking two and

striking out six over seven innings in just his sixth start of the

season.

The Red Sox took three of four in the wraparound series and won

for the second time in three games since trading Adrian Gonzalez,

Josh Beckett and Carl Crawford to the Dodgers on Saturday in a

salary-dumping, nine-player deal.

”Obviously he’s going to get another start – two, three, four

or five,” Boston manager Bobby Valentine said. ”He might finish

strong throwing like that.”

Jacoby Ellsbury had a solo homer and a double for Boston, which

opens a nine-game West Coast trip Tuesday night against the Los

Angles Angels.

It was the first time Matsuzaka’s pitched more than six

innings.

”When I had to go back on the DL in July it was very

disappointing, especially when I didn’t expect my body to react the

way it did,” he said. ”But the encouraging part was it wasn’t my

elbow. I didn’t know if I’d be able to come back strong this year,

but I felt better than I did before I had Tommy John.”

The Red Sox won for just the seventh time in 19 games.

”He threw his slurvy slider inside on right-handers really

well,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. ”I mean he really executed

that pitch well a number of times. So when you’re sitting, looking

out, away on him and he throws that slider that starts at you and

breaks back on the corner of the plate, it keeps you off-balance

really well, and that’s what he did.”

Luke Hochevar (7-12) took the loss, giving up five runs and

eight hits in his second complete game this season.

Boston broke a 1-1 tie on Ross’ two-run single in the third.

Scott Podsednik and Dustin Pedroia each singled before Ross hit a

drive high off the Green Monster, but he was thrown out trying to

stretch it on Alex Gordon’s throw.

In the sixth, the Red Sox added two runs off Hochevar. Ross had

an RBI double off the left-field wall. He beat Gordon’s throw,

sliding into second before scoring when newly acquired James Loney

singled to make it 5-1.

Loney went 1 for 4 in his second game after coming in the trade

with Los Angeles.

Matsuzaka, in the final year of a six-year, $52 million

contract, mostly spotted his fastball with a slider and cutter to

keep the Royals hitters off balance.

He was most impressive when he worked out of a first-and-third,

one-out jam in the sixth, getting Mike Moustakas swinging on a

tailing 94 mph fastball to end the inning.

”He was throwing a good cutter,” Kansas City designated hitter

Billy Butler said. ”He was locating and had pretty good velocity

on his fastball whenever he needed it.”

The Royals took advantage of an error, scoring a run without a

hit to take a 1-0 lead in the first. Jarrod Dyson opened the game

with a walk, stole second and advanced when second baseman Pedroia

was charged with an error when he didn’t catch a somewhat high

throw. Gordon followed with a sacrifice fly.

Ellsbury’s homer in the bottom half, a drive that bounced on the

top of a short right-field wall and into the stands, tied it

1-all.

NOTES: Valentine said he expects to see reliever Alfredo Aceves

with the team on the West Coast trip Tuesday. He was suspended on

Saturday for three games for conduct detrimental to the team. ”I

guess it’s just being responsible for your actions and

understanding that all actions have consequence,” Valentine said

before Monday’s game. ”It’s just a simple rule. I don’t have a lot

of rules, but one of the rules I stated early on was you don’t do

anything to embarrass yourself, your teammates or your

organization. That’s a rule.” … Gordon went 2 for 3, getting two

hits in all four games. … Boston placed DH David Ortiz back on

the 15-day DL because of lingering problems with his strained right

Achilles, but he hopes to play again this season. OF Ryan Kalish

was recalled from Pawtucket to take his spot. … The Royals begin

a 10-game homestand Tuesday against Justin Verlander and the

Detroit Tigers. … Despite some media reports that the streak

might end, it was the 782nd consecutive sellout at Fenway Park.