Royals can't overcome early hole
KC manages only one run on three hits in first loss of '07
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The finger blister that hindered Odalis Perez at the end of Spring Training did not bother the Royals left-hander on Wednesday night, but getting the final out of the first inning did.After Perez retired the first two batters, he gave up three runs on a walk, single and two doubles in the Royals' 7-1 loss to the Red Sox. Josh Beckett and four Red Sox relievers shut down the Royals on three hits. Perez walked David Ortiz in the opening frame, although there were some borderline pitches to ignite the three-run first. "He made great pitches to Ortiz," catcher Jason LaRue said. "They were just down in the zone and in this game that's where you want them." Said Perez, "Against Ortiz, if I threw him six pitches, I would say five of them were good. I don't get the calls. The umpires do a great job. Sometime they are going to make a mistake in benefit of you." Next, Manny Ramirez singled. J.D. Drew's double down the right-field line scored Ortiz. Mike Lowell's double down the left-field line brought home Ramirez and Drew. "The pitch to Drew was down and away, where I wanted to throw the pitch," Perez said. "The pitch to Lowell was in. They were both good pitches." Three runs the way Beckett was throwing proved to be ample. "I thought Odalis pitched well enough to win," manager Buddy Bell said. "He gave us a chance to win. Beckett made the pitches when he had to. We had some chances, not a lot." Lowell opened the door with back-to-back fielding errors at third base in the third, allowing David DeJesus and Mark Grudzielanek to reach base after one out. Beckett quickly slammed that door by striking out Mark Teahen after being behind in the count 3-0 and retiring Mike Sweeney on a fly ball to right-center. "I would prefer to give credit to Beckett," Bell said. "He was up to 95-96-97 [miles per hour]." Perez said the blister that limited him to three innings in two of his final three starts in March never resurfaced. "I didn't have to worry about that the whole game," said Perez, who threw 90 pitches in 5 1/3 innings before being replaced by Joakim Soria. Perez was charged with four runs on five hits and three walks, while striking out three. "Odalis threw very well," LaRue said. "He kept us in the game. He did his job." LaRue's sacrifice fly in the fourth scored Emil Brown, who had walked and stopped at third on Ross Gload's double, for the lone Royals run. "Beckett, when he's on, is one of the best in the game," LaRue said. "He's got two-plus pitches in his fastball and curveball. Now he's using a two-seamer. When I've seen him before, he just threw a four-seam fastball. Obviously, a two-seamer has made him even tougher. He kept the ball down, and if he does that, he's going to have a good night." The Royals bullpen, outside of Jimmy Gobble, who retired all three batters he faced, did not have a good night. Relievers walked five and Todd Wellemeyer gave up a two-run homer to Kevin Youkilis in the seventh that put the Royals in a 6-1 hole. "The bullpen didn't throw strikes like they did in Spring Training," Bell said. "I expect them to do better. They got some big hits and we walked some people." Bell said he is "not yet" concerned about his relievers because it "was a very, very cold night," making it difficult to evaluate pitchers. Soria, a Rule 5 Draft pick, walked one and allowed an inherited runner to score in the sixth during his Major League debut. "I was excited, but nervous no way," Soria said. "It's baseball, although it's at the high level." Rookie third baseman Alex Gordon, who was the 2006 Minor League Player of the Year, went 0-for-4 and struck out twice. He is 0-for-7 in his first two games without getting the ball out of the infield. "This kid is going to be a heck of a player," Bell said. "He's trying like heck to get his first hit. All of us have been there. Once he gets that out of the way, he'll be fine. When that will be I don't know. But I can assure you, he's not happy. He's very, very hard on himself and sometimes that might get in your way. It's not going to be easy for him. In the first two games of his career, he's faced Curt Schilling and Beckett. You have to take that into consideration."
Alan Eskew is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.