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Boston nearly bungle it after Smoltz 'checks in'

The performance of the pitcher was the silver lining on a night of poor baseball, as his Red Sox team overcame the Kansas City Royals.

John Smoltz's pitching was the silver lining on a night of poor baseball, as his Red Sox team overcame the Kansas City Royals 15-9 at Fenway Park, Boston on Saturday. Smoltz collected his first win in a Red Sox uniform but it was an ugly win that would have left the 37,825 spectators disappointed. He pitched only five innings, but struck out five and held the Royals to one run, leaving the game with a 9-1 advantage.

Much of that had been built on Royals miscues as they made a string of errors in the first inning to allow Boston to build a 3-0 lead. Home runs from Kevin Youkilis, Jason Varitek and David Ortiz built on the lead. But after Smoltz's show, Justin Masterson gave up five runs for only one out to let the Royals back in the game. The Royals got the score back to 9-7 before Boston pulled clear again, with Youkilis crushing his second homer of the night in the eighth inning. Smoltz though was a happy man when he said: "I've checked in, you know?"

Elsewhere, the Yankees built a 4-1 lead on homers from Alex Rodriguez and Eric Hinske, but the Angels came back with seven runs in the fifth, highlighted by a two-run blast from Brandon Wood. * With agencies

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