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Sox get one back, top Royals
Stephen Drew added an RBI double and Brandon Workman (3-1) earned the win in relief for the Red Sox, who moved to three games ahead of the Tampa Bay Rays for first place in the American League East.
Koji Uehara worked a perfect ninth to earn his 12th save. Billy Butler had three hits and an RBI, but Jeremy Guthrie (12-8) was reached for five runs on 10 hits in six innings as the Royals fell for the third time in the last 18 games.
Kansas City slipped to 4 1/2 games behind the Oakland Athletics for the second AL wild card spot.
Boston broke open a scoreless game in the fourth when Drew doubled to right to plate Mike Carp.
Middlebrooks, who was recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket earlier in the day, followed and blooped a single down the right-field line to plate two more before scoring on Ellsbury's RBI double to center.
The Royals chased Red Sox starter Felix Doubront in the fifth with three runs, but could not push across the tying score as Workman got the last two outs with runners on second and third.
Another RBI double from Ellsbury in the sixth provided some insurance.
GAME NOTEBOOK: The Royals placed CF Lorenzo Cain (oblique strain) on the 15-day disabled list. LHP Will Smith was recalled from Triple-A Omaha to take his place. Kansas City also recalled LHP Donnie Joseph and designated LHP Francisley Bueno for assignment. ... Boston placed 3B Brandon Snyder (right elbow) on the 15-day DL to clear a spot for Middlebrooks and activated LHP Franklin Morales from the 15-day DL while optioning RHP Pedro Beato to Triple-A Pawtucket. ... Doubront was reached for three runs on six hits and four walks in four-plus innings.