BOSTON Left-hander Felix Doubront returned from the disabled list to make his 23rd start of the season on Sunday. Although he was not involved in the decision, the Red Sox improved to 15-8 in his starts.
Doubront went five innings against the Royals, giving up four runs on six hits and two walks with seven strikeouts. It was his ninth game with at least seven strikeouts this season. He is the only Sox left-hander other than Jon Lester to record seven or more strikeouts in at least nine games in a season since Bruce Hurst had nine such games in 1988.
But, Doubront also gave up a three-run home run to Lorenzo Cain with two outs in the fourth inning, briefly giving the Royals a lead.
After retiring the first two batters in the inning, Doubront allowed the next five to reach before ending the inning.
Felix started and he had the one tough inning, two outs nobody on, and made some pitches over the middle and threw an inside fastball for a three-run homer, said manager Bobby Valentine. Other than that he was pretty good.
Doubront had been on the DL since Aug. 10 (retroactive) with a right knee contusion. He acknowledged he might have been a little rusty.
A little bit, he said. Because I was trying to throw fastball, four-seamer down in the zone and sometimes I was opening my shoulder a little bit.
I feel pretty good. My arm, my knee feel great. Just missed a couple pitches that allowed those runs . . . Good day, though
Manager Bobby Valentine earned his fifth ejection of the season and 42nd of his major league career arguing with first base umpire Dan Bellino when Pedroia was called out. Replays appeared to show Pedroia was safe. It is not the first time Bellino has ejected a member of the Sox. In May, he ejected Mike Aviles for arguing a call third strike. And, in one of the stranger ejections in recent history, on Aug. 25, 2010, Bellino ejected Adrian Beltre for talking to Seattles Felix Hernandez between innings.
Valentine, when asked if he thought he would be managing the Sox in 2013:
I have a contract for next year, obviously.
With James Loney and Pedro Beato making the Red Sox debuts, the Sox have now used 52 players this season. Last year, they used 49 over the entire season.
Mark Melancon pitched a scoreless ninth for his first save of the season, and first save in the American League. He had 20 with the Astros in 2011.
The Sox lead the AL, going 25-16 against left-handed starters.
Scott Podsednik extended his hitting streak to six games, matching a season high. He has hit safely in 24 of 28 starts with the Sox, going 40-for-103 (.388).
Mike Aviles went 2-for-4 with a double, and has now hit in all nine career games against his former team, batting .310 (13-for-42) with three doubles and a home run.
Craig Breslow has allowed six of 13 inherited runners to score with the Sox.