One season after winning the World Series, the Boston Red Sox are playing spoiler - and doing all they can to extend a playoff drought in Kansas City that's lasted nearly three decades.
Allen Webster pitched six solid innings and Jemile Weeks stroked a pair of doubles and scored two runs as the Red Sox defeated the sputtering Royals 4-2 on Friday night.
Kansas City lost for the fourth time in five games and fell out of first place in the AL Central for the first time since Aug. 10. The Royals, who are 0-5 against the last-place Red Sox, dropped a half-game behind Detroit, which beat Cleveland 7-2.
"Any time you can spoil it for another team is big," Weeks said.
Webster (4-3), who had allowed 15 runs on 16 hits and seven walks in 13 2-3 innings over his previous three starts, limited the Royals to four hits - including Eric Hosmer's two-run homer in the fourth.
"I just tried to forget about it and attack hitters," Webster said. "Attack them and let the defense work behind me."
Weeks, who had a two-run double in the ninth inning Thursday, doubled in the third and fifth. Mookie Betts singled home Weeks in a three-run third. He scored again on Daniel Nava's two-out single in the fifth.
"They're in the hunt," Betts said. "Since we're not in it, we might as well put everybody else out of it that we can, but mostly we're just having fun playing the game."
The Royals, who have not reached the postseason since winning the 1985 World Series, are having anything but fun.
"I think everyone is trying a little bit too hard," Alex Gordon said. "It's just not coming together right now. There's a lot going on just because we're in the middle of a pennant race and we're not swinging well. We've got to move on.
"I think it's just frustration. I don't think pressing as (much as) it is frustrating. The pitching is doing the job. We just need to step up and forget about what we did tonight."
The Royals aided the Red Sox in the third, with Betts scoring on third baseman Mike Moustakas' throwing error and Nava scoring on Yordano Ventura's wild pitch.
"We definitely could have played better," Royals manager Ned Yost said.
Ventura (12-10), who had won his previous three starts, gave up four runs - three earned - and seven hits in seven innings. He also hit two batters with pitches.
Red Sox relievers Tommy Layne, Burke Badenhop, Koji Uehara and Edward Mujica held the Royals hitless for the final three innings. Mujica earned his sixth save.
GOT YOUR NUMBER
Red Sox pitchers are 5-0 with a 1.80 ERA this season against the Royals, holding them to a .206 batting average and nine extra-base hits.
Red Sox: DH David Ortiz (bruised right foot) and 1B Mike Napoli (sore toe and dislocated finger) did not play. ... INF Brock Holt is out with concussion-like symptoms after being examined by a specialist in Pittsburgh.
Royals: LHP Danny Duffy, who missed his turn Thursday with a tender shoulder, made about 30 throws at 75 feet on flat ground. He said his goal is to make his next start, which would be Tuesday against the White Sox. ... DH Josh Willingham injured his groin in his final at-bat Thursday and will be out for at least a couple of games.
Red Sox: Rubby De La Rosa, who is 0-2 with a 6.20 ERA in his past five starts, will pitch the third game of the series. De La Rosa has allowed 37 hits and walked 11 in 24 2-3 innings over those five starts.
Royals: Jeremy Guthrie will make his 23rd appearance and 21st start against Boston on Saturday. He is 3-9 with a 5.06 ERA against the Red Sox and has not defeated them since 2011.