BOSTON — John Lackey can appreciate his teammates’ offense even more with the struggles he’s gone through this season.
David Ortiz hit a grand slam to cap a five-run fourth inning and Dustin Pedroia extended his career-best hitting streak to 24 games with a solo homer, carrying the Boston Red Sox to another big offensive night with a 12-5 win over the Kansas City Royals on Wednesday.
Jacoby Ellsbury homered leading off the first inning and Pedroia followed with his homer for the Red Sox, who won for the 19th time in 23 games and scored in double digits for the second straight game.
“That’s one of the reasons I came here,” Lackey said when asked what it’s like watching the top of Boston’s offense — mainly Ellsbury and Pedroia — hitting the way they are recently. “I didn’t get a lot of that in Anaheim. Jacoby’s having a great season, he’s getting a little of everything and (Pedroia) is on fire.”
Pedroia, who went 4 for 5 in Tuesday’s 13-9 win, added two singles and a sacrifice fly, Ellsbury had three hits to increase his average to .325 and Adrian Gonzalez had three hits and three RBIs to raise his major-league leading total to 87.
Lackey (9-8) won his fourth straight start, allowing four runs — three earned — and 11 hits, walking one and striking out three in 5 2-3 innings. Before the current run, his ERA was 7.47 and he was the object of the fans’ ire during rough starts.
But he’s turned it around and the offense has been there for him, too, scoring six and seven runs, respectively, in his previous two starts.
“I don’t think anybody would complain about sitting around and watching guys score runs,” he said.
Eric Hosmer hit a three-run homer and Billy Butler added a solo shot for the Royals.
Like Tuesday’s loss, Kansas City blew an early lead. After Hosmer’s homer put the Royals up 3-0 in the first, Boston scored two runs in the bottom of the inning and three in the second before breaking it open in the fourth against starter Bruce Chen (5-4).
Boston had 16 hits, reaching double digits for the 11th straight home game.
It was the first time Boston’s first two batters homered since July 21, 1995.
Ellsbury’s caromed off the Pesky Pole in right and Pedroia hit his into the Green Monster seats, extending his career-best streak, the longest by a second baseman in club history.
“We started out in the game and we’re down 3-0 and that’s not an easy way to play,” Boston manager Terry Francona said. “We get the two home runs and ‘OK, we’re right back.”’
In the second, Ellsbury drew a bases-loaded walk, Pedroia had a sacrifice fly and Gonzalez’s run-scoring grounder made it 5-3.
The Red Sox broke it open with the five-run fourth that was highlighted by Ortiz’s slam. Pedroia, Gonzalez and Kevin Youkilis singled before Ortiz belted his 10th career slam — ninth with the Red Sox — over Boston’s bullpen, tying him with Rico Petrocelli for second all-time in club history behind Ted Williams’ 17. Yamaico Navarro had an RBI single earlier in the inning.
“A pitcher would rather walk you than make a mistake that leads to four runs,” Ortiz said. “You have to be ready for (a mistake).”
And he certainly looked like he was.
“We were still in that game, but when Papi hit that home run, it kind of took the life out of us,” Royals right fielder Jeff Francoeur said. “That’s what he does.”
With the slam, Ortiz reached 1,000 RBIs with Boston.
Chen was tagged for 10 runs and 10 hits in four innings, throwing 114 pitches in his brief outing.
“He wasn’t anywhere near as sharp,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “He really struggled to command the strike zone, had 114 pitches after four innings and just couldn’t command the ball and throw it where he wanted to. Bruce is usually pretty good at doing that.”
Bulter’s homer made it 10-4 in the fifth.
Mariners end losing streak
NEW YORK — The Seattle Mariners snapped their 17-game losing streak Wednesday, riding a 17-hit attack led by Ichiro Suzuki and rookie Dustin Ackley to a 9-2 victory over the New York Yankees.
Felix Hernandez pitched seven innings for his third straight win in the Bronx. Suzuki had four hits and scored two runs. Ackley tripled among his three hits and drove in three runs as the Mariners did something they failed to accomplish during the skid: they turned an opponent’s mistake into a big inning.
Seattle took 21 days worth of frustration out on three relievers, scoring five runs in the seventh inning — highlighted by Mike Carp’s bases-loaded triple — after Robinson Cano flubbed a flip to Derek Jeter at second base for an error.
The Mariners added two more in the ninth when Adam Kennedy doubled in Ackley and scored on Carp’s single to give Seattle its most runs since it had nine in a win against Tampa Bay on June 5.
After a win July 5, the Mariners were 43-43 and 2½ games back in the AL West, a pleasant early season surprise. But it all fell apart in a hurry.
The longest skid in the major leagues since Kansas City lost 19 in 2005 began with a loss at Oakland on July 6 and included four-game sweeps against division rivals, the Los Angeles Angels and Texas Rangers. The Mariners led in seven of the games, twice in the seventh inning, and loss No. 10 — to the Blue Jays — came in 14 innings.
Their last nine games have been against the AL East. They lost three to Toronto, three to Boston then dropped the first two to New York, managing just one hit Tuesday night.
Manager Eric Wedge shaved his mustache after losing Saturday, pushed back the report time and canceled batting practice Tuesday but had nothing up his sleeve Wednesday: “No, the only trick is these guys have to go out and do better,” he said before the game.
And that’s what they did.
The Mariners came in hitting .218 during the streak but smacked around a struggling Phil Hughes (1-3) for nine hits and two runs over six innings. Still, Seattle had trouble getting runners home before Carp’s triple in the seventh.
Ackley was stranded on third after he hit a two-out RBI triple in the third. Ackley singled in a run in the fifth, but that was it after the Mariners loaded the bases with none out. Kennedy led off the sixth with a double and was stranded there.
But Seattle let loose in the seventh after Cano’s error on Ackley’s run-scoring fielder’s choice.
The Mariners had lost Hernandez’s previous five starts, but they had to gain some confidence from sending the reigning AL Cy Young Award winner to the mound.
Hernandez (9-9) had never lost in the new Yankee Stadium, never even given up a run in two starts in the billion-dollar ballpark. In fact, the Mariners beat New York the past five times he started.
He was nearly as dominant in the Bronx again. He gave up two hits through four innings before New York loaded the bases in the fifth on a walk and two hits, one nearly an out when shortstop Brendan Ryan made a diving stop and whirling throw to first but Justin Smoak’s foot was pulled off the bag on the stretch.
Jeter hit a sacrifice fly for the Yankees’ first run against King Felix in 21 innings here to make it 2-1.
Hernandez gave up five hits, walked four and struck out five to win for the first time since June 24.
Cano had a run-scoring groundout in the eighth.
NOTES: Injured Yankees 3B Alex Rodriguez (right knee surgery) turned 36. … The Yankees likely will activate RHP Rafael Soriano from the 60-day DL on Friday when they open a series against Baltimore. … Suzuki stole two bases. … Ryan extended his hitting streak to 11 games.