Kansas City Royals ran into an old nemesis Sunday: Boston Red Sox pitcher Chris Sale

The Kansas City Royals’ offensive woes continued Sunday afternoon as they failed to generate any traction in a 7-3 loss to the Boston Red Sox.

The Royals were limited to eight hits in the game. Red Sox pitcher Chris Sale threw five scoreless innings and allowed just two hits in his start. He issued two walks and struck out five batters.

Sale was effective on the mound. He tossed 64 of his 100 pitches for strikes despite battling low velocity with his signature slider. The veteran generated 18 swings and six balls in play with the slider.

“I thought we worked some good at-bats, deep counts and stuff, but couldn’t break through,” Royals manager Matt Quatraro said. “He located when he had to — the full count executing some sliders and stuff — got some called third strikes. (We) just weren’t able to string anything together.”

Edward Olivares and Maikel Garcia each had singles against Sale. Meanwhile, the Red Sox took a three-run lead in the fourth inning as outfielder Masataka Yoshida hit his 14th home run of the season.

KC didn’t score until the sixth inning, when Royals captain Salvador Perez hit a RBI single to eliminate the shutout.

“The only thing I can say is that it’s part of the game,” said Perez, who finished 2 for 4. “The thing that I know is that we come in here every day and prepare ourselves for the big-league game.”

The Red Sox responded with four insurance runs. Outfielder Adam Duvall hit a solo homer in the sixth inning. Later, infielders Rafael Devers and Justin Turner collected RBIs.

Royals outfielder Dairon Blanco hit a two-run single in the ninth, but Red Sox closer Kenley Jansen shut the door to preserve Boston’s series-ending victory.

The Royals dropped to 42-96 this season and will begin a series against the Chicago White Sox on Monday.

Missed previous games of the series?

Game 1: Royals overpower Red Sox with 13-2 victory in series opener

Game 2: Royals fall behind early in 9-5 loss to Red Sox

Here are more notables from Sunday’s game:

Zack Greinke pitches in ‘bulk’ relief role

The Royals utilized veteran pitcher Zack Greinke out of the bullpen.

It was the second time he pitched behind an opener this season. Greinke previously worked in a bullpen role Aug. 22 against the Oakland Athletics.

Royals reliever Taylor Clarke started against the Red Sox. He tossed a scoreless inning before Greinke took over.

Greinke allowed three runs and five hits in 3 2/3 innings. His lone mistake was a 87 mph changeup to Yoshida. The pitch was left in a bad location and Yoshida belted it a 415-foot home run.

“I just didn’t get many swings and misses or strikeouts,” Greinke said. “Just one bad inning.”

Red Sox duo Justin Turner and Triston Casas got aboard before the homer. Turner walked and Casas hit his 20th double of the season.

Greinke threw 67 pitches in his relief appearance. He saw a slight dip in his off-speed pitches against the Red Sox. His slider averaged 78.1 mph and the curveball’s velocity was down, as well.

Grienke said he felt a little sick coming into Sunday’s start. He met with the Royals’ training staff earlier in the game but continued with his outing.

“I think he was a little fatigued as he’s been under the weather,” Quatraro said. “I think he didn’t have his full stamina, but again, he is one pitch away from putting up another zero there and giving us a chance.”

Greinke generated 14 called strikes and three whiffs in the game. He’s now 2-7 with a 5.47 ERA in 11 career appearances against the Red Sox.

Bobby Witt Jr. records 39th stolen base

Royals shortstop Bobby Witt Jr. added another highlight to his 2023 resume.

In the sixth inning, Witt stole his 39th base of the season. He is now two home runs shy of 30 homers and one stolen base shy of 40 stolen bases.

If he reaches both milestones, Witt will be the first Royals player to join Major League Baseball’s exclusive 30-30 club.

Witt would also be the sixth MLB player to have a 30-30 campaign in his age-23 season (or younger). He would join Bobby Bonds, José Canseco, Álex Rodríguez, Mike Trout and Ronald Acuña Jr. on that short list.

What’s next: The Royals begin a three-game series against the Chicago White Sox. Cole Ragans draws the Labor Day start on Monday afternoon.

Royals shortstop Bobby Witt Jr. throws to first base as Boston Red Sox right fielder Alex Verdugo runs toward second on Sunday afternoon at Kauffman Stadium.
Royals shortstop Bobby Witt Jr. throws to first base as Boston Red Sox right fielder Alex Verdugo runs toward second on Sunday afternoon at Kauffman Stadium.