Tony Conigliaro hit a three-run home run in the eighth inning, leading the Red Sox to a 9-8 comeback win over the Royals at Fenway Park.
Kansas City had just scored two runs in the top of the eighth to take an 8-6 lead and had relief pitcher Moe Drabowsky on the mound for his third inning of work. He got two quick outs, but Reggie Smith reached on a bloop single and Rico Petrocelli walked. Conigliaro, who had missed all of the 1968 season after being hit in the face with a pitch late in the 1967 season, hit his 17th home run of 1969 over the Green Monster.
The home run was the perfect ending to a traditional Fenway Park slugfest. The teams combined for 27 hits, 10 walks, and five homers. Jerry Adair had the first round-tripper of the day, a solo shot in the second inning for the game’s first run. It was Adair’s second home run in two days, and came off Boston starter Ray Culp.
Boston answered with a home run of their own in the third inning. Royals starter Wally Bunker had kept the Red Sox scoreless in the first two innings, working around Syd O’Brien’s triple to start the game. But in the third, O’Brien led off with a double. Mike Andrews doubled to drive him in, and then Carl Yastrzemski homered to center for a 3-1 lead.
Adair put the Royals back on top in the fourth inning. Singles by Mike Fiore and Lou Piniella started the frame, and Joe Foy walked to load the bases. Adair, who had been part of Boston’s 1967 American League championship, tripled to clear the bases and give KC a 4-3 lead. However, after a strikeout, Adair would make the last out of the inning, thrown out by Conigliaro trying to score on a fly ball to right field.
Kansas City extended their lead in the fifth. With one out, Pat Kelly homered. Paul Schaal followed with a single. Fiore hit a grounder back to the mound; Culp made a bad throw to second and both runners were safe. Relief pitcher Lee Stange took over but walked Piniella to load the bases. Joe Foy hit into a forceout at second, but Schaal scored for a 6-3 lead.
Bunker could not keep the lead through the bottom of the inning, though. With one out in the bottom of the fifth, Smith singled and Petrocelli homered. With two outs, George Scott and Jerry Moses each singled. Joe Lahoud, hitting for Stange, tied the game with a single.
The Royals recaptured the lead in the eighth. With reliever Sonny Siebert on the mound, Adair led off with a single. Juan Rios ran for Adair and took second on a wild pitch. Buck Martinez drove him in with a single and took second on the throw home. Ed Kirkpatrick ran for Martinez and took third on a passed ball. Jackie Hernandez put the Royals ahead 8-6 with a single. After Drabowsky singled, relief pitcher Sparky Lyle then prevented further damage with three straight outs.
Lyle also retired the first two batters in the ninth. But the Royals had one last chance. Rios singled and pinch-hitter Hawk Taylor did the same. But Lyle struck out Hernandez to end the game.
The loss ended the season series with Boston holding a 10-2 advantage. While the Royals played most of the American League tough (66-72), they combined for a 3-21 mark against Baltimore and Boston.
Also, the loss left the Royals with a 51-76 record. They were in fourth place in the AL West, 25.5 games behind Minnesota.
Box score and play-by-play: https://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/BOS/BOS196908280.shtml
Today’s birthdays: Lou Piniella (1943), Mark Ryal (1960), Jay Witasick (1972), Kit Pellow (1973), Ryan Madson (1980), Kelvin Gutierrez (1984)