KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A hard grounder to the shortstop hit right in front of him, and Rick Ankiel took off running. Even with a bobble, he was out 10 feet before the bag.

A homer and game-winning hit later, Kansas City’s new outfielder more than made up for it.

Shaking off his base-running blunder and some harsh words from his manager, Ankiel hit a broken-bat, two-run single off Daniel Bard in the eighth inning Friday night to lift the Royals to a 4-3 victory against the struggling Boston Red Sox.

“I made a mistake, but you’ve got to put that behind you and keep playing baseball,” Ankiel said.

He sure did.

Ankiel, who opened with a single in the second inning, made his base-running gaffe in the fourth after lining a double to the gap in right-center.

Royals Manager Trey Hillman didn’t chew out Ankiel right away, waiting until the next inning to firmly let him know that kind of mistake, especially on a team that can’t afford many blunders, wasn’t acceptable.

The pitcher-turned-slugger responded, following Billy Butler’s solo homer in the sixth with a solo shot on the next pitch, then jammed a two-out single over Marco Scutaro’s head in the eighth.

John Parrish (1-0) got an out in the eighth for his first win since June 28, 2008, and Joakim Soria pitched the ninth to break Kansas City’s string of three straight blown saves.

“He did enough good things for us tonight,” Hillman said of Ankiel.

Boston got a long two-run homer from J.D. Drew and a solid initial outing from Tim Wakefield.

What hurt the Red Sox was their bullpen. Again.

Boston lost 2 of 3 to rival New York in Boston after its relievers allowed six earned runs and walked eight in 121/3 innings. The Red Sox did it again against Kansas City, making it three straight losses out of the bullpen and a disappointing start for last year’s AL wild-card team.

“Right now we’re just trying to find a good rhythm for everybody,” Wakefield said.

It all fell apart in the eighth.

Wakefield, back from offseason back surgery, baffled Kansas City most of the night, allowing the homers to Butler and Ankiel but not much else. He gave up two runs on six hits and left after seven innings with the Red Sox leading 3-2.

Hideki Okajima allowed a leadoff double to David DeJesus in the eighth, then was replaced by Bard (0-1) with one out. Bard walked Alberto Callaspo, who was replaced by pinch-runner Willie Bloomquist, and struck out Butler to set up the showdown with Ankiel.

Ankiel, who opened the season 2 for 12, took two balls, then squeezed a floater to short left for the go-ahead run and a 4-for-4, three-RBI night.

“They earned the win. They scrapped together a couple of runs when they needed it,” said Bard, who blew save Wednesday against the Yankees. “When you make a decent pitch, you hope you get a better result, but it doesn’t always happen.”

Boston DH David Ortiz hit a double in the fourth inning to break a 1-for-11 slump but was ejected in the fifth for arguing a check swing call.


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