KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The Boston Red Sox have moved Daniel Bard from the bullpen, where he was very effective last year, to the rotation.
For seven innings against the Kansas City Royals it looked like a wise decision, but a tiring Bard opened the eighth inning by walking Jarrod Dyson and Alex Gordon. That was manager Bobby Valentine's cue to bring in reliever Matt Albers, who had not given up a run in seven games and 9 2/3 innings this year.
Billy Butler, however, hit Albers' third offering out for a three-run homer as the Royals rallied for a 6-4 victory over the Red Sox Tuesday night.
It is the learning curve for Bard to be effective as he pitches deeper into games.
"I felt strong," Bard said entering the eighth. "You get to 90 pitches, I'm not tired to where I think I need to come out of the game by any means. But there is a fatigue that sets in. It's about learning how to pitch with that little bit of fatigue. It's not my arm. My arm felt great. It's your whole body and legs and your lower back and everything. You've got to learn how to pitch in those conditions. That's kind of where I'm at right now. I'm trying to learn how to finish games and get through that 100-110 pitches strong all the way through the end, instead of tailing off and losing command late.
"I was just trying to do too much. I was trying to milk the finish line and I wanted to get that win for our team really bad. I just tried to do a little too much with those pitches and maybe didn't trust them in the middle of the zone like I have been."
After two balks and a wild pitch gifted the Royals with three runs in the second, Bard was pitching efficiently. He had a five-pitch third inning and an eight-pitch fourth inning.
"After the second inning when he kind of gave away three runs, he was in complete control of the game with all of his pitches," Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine said. "I was very surprised to see him walk those hitters. I had Matt ready in case something happened. Something happened."
Butler leads the Royals with six home runs and 23 RBIs.
"The way we've been going, we haven't had many comebacks this year," Butler said. "Hopefully, that gets us going. He (Albers) has a lot on his ball. He throws it hard, and the idea was to have me hit it on the ground into a double play. That's the way things work out. Last night, I hit into a double play; tonight, I stayed in my approach and got the pitch up and out."
Bard (2-3) was charged with the loss, while left-hander Jose Mijares, the third of four Kansas City pitchers, picked up the victory. Bard gave up five runs on six hits, four walks and two balks. Mijares (2-1) pitched two scoreless innings, striking out three and giving up two hits.
"Bard started to labor," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "Dyson did a good job laying off pitches. Gordon -- he wasn't even close (walking on four pitches)."
Jonathan Broxton worked a flawless ninth to log his sixth save in seven opportunities.
The Red Sox scored two runs with two out in the second, which Will Middlebrooks started with a double. Middlebrooks has an extra-base hit in his first five big league games, matching Hall of Famer Enos Slaughter, who accomplished that in 1938. Middlebrooks, however, left that inning due to left hamstring tightness.
Middlebrooks was held up at third on Marlon Byrd's single and scored on Kelly Shoppach's single to center. Royals left-hander Danny Duffy walked Mike Aviles to load the bases, then walked Dustin Pedroia to force in a run.
Bard was his own worst enemy in the Royals' three-run second inning. Bard committed two balks, including balking home Eric Hosmer, and uncorked a wild pitch. Chris Getz and Humberto Quintero delivered run-producing singles.
"It was really weird," Bard said. "The balks were just a fluke thing. I can't remember the last time I balked in my life, ever. I don't think I've done it in the big leagues. It stinks they got three runs out of this. They probably get one or two either way. I just tried to settle back in. I knew I was still making good pitches. I wasn't going to let that take me out of my game completely."
The Red Sox tied it in the third when Aviles doubled with two outs and scored on Pedroia's single.
Duffy continued the trend of Kansas City starters being knocked out early when he was pulled with one out in the fifth after 102 pitches. He gave up four runs on seven hits and five walks, and he struck out only one. The Red Sox took advantage of a Getz throwing error that allowed Byrd to score in the fifth, making it 4-3.
Kansas City starters Duffy, Jonathan Sanchez and Luke Hochevar have pitched a total of 9 2/3 innings in the past three games.
NOTES: The Royals called up right-hander Vin Mazzaro, who was 1-0 with a 4.37 ERA in six starts with Class AAA Omaha, but he was in the bullpen Tuesday as a long reliever. Rookie left-hander Tommy Hottovy, who made his major league debut last season with Boston, was optioned to Omaha. ... The Red Sox will start left-hander Jon Lester against the Royals in the series finale. The Royals are 0-5 when the opponent starts a lefty. Lester no-hit the Royals on May 19, 2008, at Fenway Park and has a 5-1 record with a 1.30 ERA in seven career starts against Kansas City. ... Ortiz leads the majors with 20 extra-base hits. ... Pedroia extended his hitting streak to a season-high nine games.
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