KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Boston’s five home runs would seem insignificant if a certain line-drive single had twisted a couple of inches to the left.

That ball would have smashed into Josh Beckett’s head instead of merely grazing the back of his head during an 8-3 victory Saturday night against the Kansas City Royals.

“I’ve had some line drives hit back at me and stuff. I’ve been hit in the legs before,” said Beckett. “But never anywhere else.”

Jeremy Hermida and Jason Varitek homered on consecutive pitches from Zack Greinke, and the Red Sox went deep five times while stopping a three-game losing streak.

Varitek added a second homer, and Kevin Youkilis and Dustin Pedroia also connected, helping Beckett remain unbeaten against Kansas City.

It was in the seventh when David DeJesus whistled a single up the middle that brushed the back of Beckett’s head.

He made sure it didn’t rattle him.

“I was thinking about how many runs we were going to score,” said Beckett (1-0). “It didn’t hit me very hard. I wasn’t too worried about it.”

Beckett allowed three runs and nine hits in seven innings. He had one walk and four strikeouts while beating the Royals for the fifth straight start. In eight career starts against the Royals, Beckett is 6-0.

Greinke (0-1) had a 1-0 lead after four innings, but Hermida hit a 1-1 pitch leading off the fifth for his first home run. Varitek then slammed Greinke’s next delivery into the Royals’ bullpen, marking the first time in Greinke’s career he’s allowed home runs on consecutive pitches.

“Those were just two bad pitches,” said Greinke. “I hope they take it but they both swung at it. Those were as good a pitch to hit as they’ll ever see again.”

Varitek, making his first start, homered off Luis Mendoza in the ninth. Three batters later Pedroia hit a two-run shot, giving him three RBI. Youkilis led off the Boston eighth with a solo homer off Dusty Hughes.

“My focus obviously was Josh and what has to go on there,” said Varitek, the veteran catcher. “It’s nice to contribute, absolutely. Both swings, I was able to get the good part of the bat on the ball. The ball was carrying a little bit to the right.”

Beckett said he felt no extra pressure going against one of the game’s top starters.

“I feel like with this lineup we’re going to score runs off whoever’s pitching,” he said. “I really believe in our guys. I’m not too concerned with who they’re facing. I just have to get the other guys out.”


MIKE LOWELL, who lost his job at third base to free agent Adrian Beltre this spring, said this could be his final season as a big leaguer.

Lowell said he still had not decided for certain but was leaning toward retirement.

Lowell, an 11-year veteran, underwent surgery on his right thumb on Dec. 30 and the Red Sox signed Beltre.

He has not tried to hide his displeasure at not being the starter.


DAISUKE MATSUZAKA allowed two hits and no runs in five innings as he began a 30-day rehab assignment with Triple-A Pawtucket.

Matsuzaka has been on Boston’s disabled list since April 3 with a neck strain.

He walked one, struck out three and hit two batters against Rochester.

He threw 43 of 73 pitches for strikes and reached 93 mph on the McCoy Stadium radar gun.


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