BOSTON -- Oh, by the way, they played a baseball game at Fenway Park Friday night.
And the Red Sox, thrilled to have David Ortiz back in the lineup, won.
On the night Adrian Gonzalez was pulled from the lineup minutes before the start, apparently as part of a blockbuster trade to the Dodgers (which hadn't been announced by the end of the game), the Sox snapped a four-game losing streak with a 4-3 win over the Royals.
The victory also allowed the Sox, shorthanded with Gonzalez and Nick Punto (also in the proposed deal) unavailable, to keep from falling to a season-worst eight games under .500.
Pedro Ciriaco continued his stunning dream run with a soft two-run double in the seventh inning to bring Boston from behind and reward Lester, who pitched well and won his third straight start before leaving with a left hamstring cramp. The injury is not serious.
Ortiz, who missed 35 games with an Achilles strain, singled in two runs on the first pitch he saw and doubled on the second. But after the game, he made it clear there is still pain in his heel and he will see how it reacts over the next few days.
"He made it look kind of easy there," said shortstop Mike Aviles. "Take I don't even know how many days off he had and no rehab assignment and then come in and right out of the gate two RBIs; it kind of makes US all look bad, doesn't it?"
But despite Ortiz's early hitting, the Red Sox trailed Bruce Chen and the Royals 3-2 entering the bottom of the seventh. That's when Ciriaco, 12-for-25 in the last six games, delivered against reliever Kelvin Herrera (1-2).
Vicente Padilla relieved Lester with a 3-0 count on Billy Butler with no one out in the eighth. Butler reached on an infield single and pinch runner Jarrod Dyson stole second; but Padilla, Andrew Miller and Andrew Bailey pitched out of the inning.
Bailey, the projected closer who missed most of the season with thumb surgery, then pitched a perfect ninth for his first save with the club, the 76th of his career.
Eric Hosmer homered (No. 12) and Alex Gordon doubled in a run for the Royals.
"He's obviously not having his kind of a year but he's still got great stuff and I thought putting up those runs against him was pretty impressive," Gordon said of Lester. "We just couldn't finish it at the end. We had our chances."
The re-done Red Sox lineup jumped to a 2-0 lead and welcomed Ortiz back in the first inning. Ciriaco singled and Jacoby Ellsbury reached on an infield hit. Dustin Pedroia sacrificed the runners into scoring position and Ortiz came through, extending his long-interrupted hitting streak to 12 games.
The Royals tied it in the third and took a 3-2 lead in the fourth.
In the third, Hosmer led off with his homer, on the first pitch. With two out (after an error and a double play), Alcides Escobar walked and then rode home on Gordon's double.
Two Lester walks helped load the bases in the fourth, and Kansas City took the lead when Johnny Giavotella beat out an infield hit to first base, where a clumsy Mauro Gomez was playing for the slick-fielding Gonzalez.
Lester, 6-2 with a 1.64 ERA lifetime against the Royals, settled down and pitched another strong game as he continued to try to salvage his season
"It's been more than three starts (the three wins)," he said. "Now I'm just winning. Winning cures everything, so ... I've been feeling good with the adjustments that we've made and how we've made adjustments as far as my pitch selection and going after guys. I feel like I was headed in the right direction probably five, six starts ago. Just gotta keep plugging away."
NOTES: The Red Sox went 13-22 with Ortiz on the shelf. ... Reliever Junichi Tazawa was sent to Pawtucket to make room for Ortiz. ... Pedroia was 1-for-3 and is hitting .385 lifetime against the Royals, the highest batting average of any player (with at least 125 plate appearances) against K.C. ... The Royals hit .178 with two extra base hits in going 1-2 at Tampa Bay. ... The Boston win evened the all-time series with the Royals at 217-217. ... Young righty Kyle Zimmer, K.C.'s top pick in the recent draft, underwent minor right elbow surgery, a cleanup that was known about by teams before he was drafted and got a $3 million signing bonus. ... Lester is 31-8 in career games played on or after Aug. 11 in a season. ... Chen was acquired by the Red Sox from the Royals to pitch the final game of last season (or a possible one-game playoff), but the deal was quashed by the commissioner's office. He pitched five games for the Red Sox in 2003. ... Hosmer in 9-for-22 in five games and Gordon 17-for-44 in 12 games at Fenway.
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