Red Sox knuckler Wakefield stuck on 199 wins

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Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Tim Wakefield, right, and shortstop Marco Scutaro exchange support as Wakefield is replaced during the sixth inning of a baseball game against the Kansas City Royals in Kansas City, Mo., Saturday, Aug. 20, 2011. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Tim Wakefield is still searching for his 200th victory.

It's been nearly a month since the Red Sox knuckleballer won his 199th game. He's gone 0-2 with three no-decisions in his past five starts, including Saturday night's 9-4 loss to Kansas City.

"I'm not frustrated," said Wakefield, who got a no-decision against the Royals. "I felt normal just like the last five starts, I take it like a normal start. I'm trying to get outs and give us a quality start. I felt fine. I just left a couple of balls up."

Alex Gordon and Eric Hosmer each drove in two runs in the sixth inning. Wakefield took a 4-1 lead into the sixth, but was pulled after giving up three consecutive hits with one out and the Red Sox holding onto a 4-3 advantage.

"We're trying to win a game," Wakefield said. "We're not trying to do a favor for me."

Gordon's two-run double off Matt Albers (4-4) put the Royals up 6-4. Hosmer's two-run triple off Franklin Morales capped off the scoring.

The Royals also got run-producing doubles by Jeff Francoeur and Mike Moustakas. Chris Getz's single scored Moustakas to tie the score at 4-4.

The eight-run sixth matched a Royals season-high for an inning. Gordon led the Royals' offense with two doubles and an eighth inning single for his 500th career hit.

"I thought it was a pretty typical Wake outing," Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. "He was looking pretty good. His pitch count was a little high and he was getting some balls up. There were a couple of balls that trickled through there and then in the sixth they got a ton of two-out runs."

Albers (4-4) took the loss, retiring only one of the six batters he faced and surrendering give runs.

"We're obviously frustrated for him," Albers said of not getting Wakefield his milestone victory. "When it's 5-4 you have to keep the game close. Giving up the lead like that is bad enough, when it's 5-4, but making it 9-4, that really makes it hard on our offense."

The 45-year-old Wakefield gave up four runs and nine hits in 5 1-3 innings. Hosmer, Moustakas and Salvador Perez were not even born when Wakefield began his professional career in 1988 as a weak-hitting first baseman for Watertown in the Pittsburgh Pirates farm system. He moved to the mound the next year.

"A lot of these kids had never even seen a knuckleball before, so the third time around might have made a difference," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "He would leave a couple up, but the majority were really dancing good and really dive bombing once it got into the strike zone.

"The speed of 66-67 miles per hour is difficult to time when the ball is fluttering that much. Finally there in the sixth, we did some damage. His knuckleball was really dancing. It was good to get him out of there. It was good to keep the hits coming."

Felipe Paulino (2-5) picked up the victory, allowing four runs on eight hits and three walks in six innings. Paulino won for the first time since July 5.

Boston built a 3-1 lead in the fourth when they had four singles and a walk. Carl Crawford's single scored Dustin Pedroia, who led off the inning with a single. Darnell McDonald's sacrifice fly scored Josh Reddick with the other run.

The Red Sox missed an opportunity for a much bigger inning when former Royal Mike Aviles flied out to deep center, leaving the bases loaded.

Boston added a run in the sixth when Ryan Lavarnway's single brought home Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who led off the inning with a double, for his first big league RBI.

The Red Sox scored a run in the third, which Lavarnway led off with a walk, took second on a Paulino wild pitch and third on a Darnell McDonald bunt single. He scored when Marco Scutaro grounded into a double play.

Billy Butler's double to right in the bottom of the inning scored Escobar.

Notes: While CF Jacoby Ellsbury was held out of the Red Sox lineup with a back bruise, Scutaro returned to the lineup Saturday after missing the previous six games with a stiff back. Ellsbury suffered a contusion after being hit in the back by an Everett Teaford pitch in the eighth inning Friday. Red Sox manager Terry Francona said Ellsbury is "pretty sore" and likely would not play Sunday. Darnell McDonald replaced Ellsbury, making his fourth start of the season in center. ... 2B Chris Getz was in the Royals starting lineup for the first time since Aug. 4. Johnny Giavotella, who had started 15 consecutive games at second since his Aug. 4 promotion from Class AAA Omaha, was given the day off. ... Red Sox LHP Jon Lester, who starts Sunday, is 4-1 with a 1.28 ERA in six career starts against the Royals, including a no-hitter in 2008. Lester, however, is 0-1 with a 7.20 ERA in his lone start at Kauffman Stadium. The Royals will start rookie LHP Danny Duffy, who yielded eight runs in three-plus innings in a Tuesday loss against the New York Yankees.