KANSAS CITY -- The Royals finally kicked off their shoes, settled back on the sofa and got comfortable at home.
By knocking off the Red Sox, 4-3, on Wednesday night with 18,339 fans at Kauffman Stadium, the Royals finished their homestand with a winning record (4-3). It's quite a relief after the 0-10 debacle on their first stay at The K.
"That was a great game for us," manager Ned Yost said. "That's the first time in a long time I felt like we were firing on all cylinders."
Bruce Chen pitched into the seventh inning for his first victory. Jonathan Broxton escaped a two-on, no-out jam in the ninth for his seventh save. The Royals got some big breaks in a three-run first inning and a couple of controversial calls by umpires went their way. And they beat Jon Lester, a left-hander who previously was 5-1 against them with a 1.30 ERA and a no-hitter.
"It's a big win for us," Yost said. "The game here would have meant a mediocre homestand or a really good homestand."
The Royals split four games with the Yankees and won two of three from the Red Sox.
But it was very uncertain right down to the last pitch by Broxton. On Tuesday night, he'd nailed down a 6-4 win with a perfect ninth. Not this time.
"They're not all going to be pretty," Broxton said.
Cody Ross led off the ninth with a single and Jarrod Saltalamacchia walked.
Marlon Byrd squared to bunt, and the ball either skimmed off his bat or finger. Home-plate umpire Jeff Nelson ruled it a foul ball and it was merely a strike. Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine steamed and said Byrd had been hit by a pitch and the bases should be loaded with no outs. He wanted Nelson to check with the other umps for a different verdict.
"Marlon bunted at that ball? He got hit [on the] finger," Valentine said. "I don't know why an umpire wouldn't check. I asked him five times to check with the first-base umpire."
Byrd was not quite as agitated as his manager.
"It hit on my finger," he said, "but he had it as hitting the bat, so it's one of those things. It's going a million miles per hour and he makes the best call he can."
Byrd stayed in the box and bunted successfully, bringing up ninth-place hitter Ryan Sweeney.
"Ned came out there and asked me, 'Do we want to walk him or go after him?' I said, 'Let's go after him,'" Broxton said. "I fell straight behind him 2-0, and that's not a great thing to do when the manager puts the ball in your court, but I was able to battle back and get him out."
Get him out because Alex Gordon made a diving catch of Sweeney's line drive in short left field and jumped up so quickly that pinch-runner Darnell McDonald wasn't about to head for home.
"My first thought was, 'OK, make sure you block home plate, because there's going to be a play here,'" catcher Brayan Pena said. "Then I saw Alex diving, and he made a great catch. It was a game-saving catch without a question."
There was still one out to go and Broxton got it, getting Mike Aviles to bounce out.
The Royals got three runs off arch nemesis Lester in the first inning, but they needed the help of a controversial non-catch. Lester got two outs, but he walked Billy Butler and Jeff Francoeur singled. Center fielder Byrd dropped Johnny Giavotella's liner for an error and Butler scored.
Then Pena sent a shot soaring toward the left-field wall. As Ross raced toward the left-field wall, he grabbed the ball, but it slipped out of his glove and rebounded off the wall and back into his glove. Third-base umpire Chris Guccione ruled that Ross didn't control the ball long enough for an out and the play went for a two-run double. Valentine questioned the ruling, but he later acknowledged that the umpire's ruling was correct.
Chen pitched into the seventh inning and encountered serious trouble only in the third, when the Red Sox gained a 3-3 tie. Adrian Gonzalez cleared the loaded bases with a two-out double into the right-center gap.
When Irving Falu, filling in for third baseman Mike Moustakas, hit a leadoff double in the fourth, Yost sensed that this was a pivotal moment. So he had Chris Getz bunt, sending Falu to third base with Alcides Escobar coming up.
"I don't know why, but [I] felt in the fourth inning with Escobar up, that fourth run was going to be really big for us," said Yost. "Even in the fourth inning, I felt like we needed to get that run in because I felt like it was going to be the winning run, which turned out to be the case."
Escobar drilled a line drive to right field off Lester, hustling for a double as Falu trotted home for a 4-3 lead.
"I was looking for one pitch outside, trying to hit the ball in the hole with the infield in," Escobar said. "He threw me a sinker for a strike and I hit the ball good."
Chen held that lead through two outs in the seventh, and Aaron Crow got the next four outs. Then it came down to Broxton.
"Broxton showed that he's an All-Star," said Pena. "He kept his composure. I went out there and saw fire in his eyes. There was no panic and that gave me confidence to put down [a sign] for whatever I wanted to put down."
Broxton got the third out, sauntered happily off the mound and looked like he felt right at home.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.