Sandy Leon certainly looked nifty at the right time.
The stocky Leon slid into home plate and avoided catcher Drew Butera’s tag on Eduardo Nunez’s ground out in the 10th inning Saturday night, lifting the Boston Red Sox past Kansas City 9-8 to end the Royals’ nine-game winning streak.
Nunez also hit two solo homers over the Green Monster for the Red Sox, improving to 5 for 9 in two games since being acquired from San Francisco for two minor-league pitchers earlier in the week.
Lorenzo Cain hooked a three-run homer around the right-field pole and Whit Merrifield had a career-best four hits – all singles – for the Royals, who were looking to match their longest win streak since June 2014.
The Red Sox won for just the second time in seven games and remained one-half game behind the AL East-leading New York Yankees.
Leon opened the 10th with a double off the Green Monster against Mike Minor (5-3). After Mookie Betts was intentionally walked, both moved up on a wild pitch before Nunez hit a grounder that shortstop Alcides Escobar made a diving stab of and threw to first. Leon, who halted on the play, headed home on the throw to first and beat Eric Hosmer’s throw by slipping his hand around the tag.
After a delay to confirm the call, the Red Sox celebrated.
Royals manager Ned Yost waited and knew it was over after a replay.
Matt Barnes (6-2) pitched a scoreless inning for the win.
Boston tied it on Betts’ sacrifice fly in the eighth.
Trailing 6-4 in the sixth, Kansas City scored four runs on two hits, two walks and the two errors. Reliever Blaine Boyer also had a wild pitch and Christian Vazquez a passed ball.
Third baseman Rafael Devers booted Escobar’s grounder to open the inning and Alex Gordon walked. Both moved up on the wild pitch. Merrifield and Jorge Bonifacio had consecutive RBI singles to tie it. After Nunez threw high on an attempted force at second and a run scored, Salvador Perez’s sacrifice fly made it 8-6.
The Red Sox had moved ahead by scoring twice in the fourth and fifth. Vazquez had an RBI double and scored on Devers’ single. Nunez hit his second homer leading off the fifth, and the other scored on Mike Moustakas’ fielding error.
Cain’s homer cleared the short wall and Betts’ glove as he leaped, slipping into the first row to make it 4-2.