Red Sox-Royals Preview
By KATE HEDLIN
(AP) -- After a particularly bitter end to a dismal homestand, the Boston Red Sox may welcome a trip to Kansas City as they search for answers.
The biggest question may be how Boston handles an overworked bullpen.
The Red Sox will try to avoid a season-high sixth straight loss Monday night when they open a three-game set against the Kansas City Royals.
Boston has had a miserable time at home recently, losing 10 of 11. The Red Sox (11-16) finished a 1-5 homestand with a 9-6, 17-inning loss to Baltimore on Sunday, getting swept at Fenway Park by the Orioles in a three-game series for the first time since 1994.
Outfielder Darnell McDonald, who entered in the eighth as a pinch runner, gave up a tiebreaking three-run homer in the 17th. With Clay Buchholz failing to make it out of the fourth inning, the Red Sox had already used seven relievers before McDonald came in.
"I don't like any losses. I've never found a loss that I thought was easy," manager Bobby Valentine said. "They're all difficult."
It was the second extra-inning game of the series, with Friday's opener going to the 13th. Boston's bullpen was already taxed after Aaron Cook failed to make it out of the third in Saturday's loss. The team doesn't have a scheduled day off until May 24.
Even before Sunday, the Red Sox were looking at options for the bullpen. Cook was placed on the disabled list after receiving stitches in his knee and Boston called up Andrew Miller, who struck out three in 1 1-3 innings Sunday.
The Red Sox's five-game skid matches their longest of the season, set April 16-21 - losses that were all at home. After that slide, they won their next six straight - all on the road.
Boston hasn't dropped six in a row since opening the 2011 season 0-6.
With no day off this week, it will be important for Felix Doubront (1-1, 5.19 ERA) to give the Red Sox some innings Monday.
However, Doubront gave up five runs in four innings of a 5-3 loss to Oakland on Tuesday. He struck out eight, but threw 30 pitches in the first inning and 94 overall.
The left-hander, who has yet to pitch past the sixth inning in any of his eight career starts, will try to keep the Royals struggling at home.
Kansas City (9-18) settled for a split of a four-game series against the Yankees, losing 10-4 Sunday to fall to 2-12 at home.
Luke Hochevar was hit hard again, allowing seven runs in 2 1-3 innings as his ERA soared to 9.00.
Royals starters are 2-8 with a 6.59 ERA at home.
Jonathan Sanchez (1-1, 5.24) will try to reverse that trend and build off his best start since his season debut. The left-hander gave up one hit in five scoreless innings of a 3-2 victory at Detroit on Wednesday but left without a decision.
"Sanchez used his fastball well," manager Ned Yost said. "After battling strep throat the past three days, so he started to lose some energy in the fifth."
Sanchez won his only start against the Red Sox while with San Francisco on June 25, 2010. He gave up three runs, three hits and four walks in 5 1-3 innings.
Boston slugger Adrian Gonzalez, who went 0 for 8 in Sunday's loss, is 9 for 36 (.231) with one homer and 12 strikeouts lifetime against Sanchez.
The Red Sox have won seven of nine in Kansas City.
Updated May 6, 2012