KANSAS CITY -- Winning games in the clutch is something new for the Royals this season, but it certainly seems as if they like it.
Billy Butler smashed a go-ahead three-run home run in the eighth inning on Tuesday night to propel the Royals to a 6-4 win over the Red Sox at Kauffman Stadium, the first time this season Kansas City had come from behind in the seventh inning or later to win.
The Royals headed into the bottom of the eighth trailing, 4-3. After Red Sox starter Daniel Bard walked the inning's first two batters, Butler smashed a three-run home run off reliever Matt Albers 402 feet into the left-field water fountain, giving the Royals a 6-4 lead.
"That's probably the best ball I hit this year so far, and I was just happy to do it in a big situation like that," Butler said.
The late heroics came after a seventh-inning rally was cut short. The Royals had runners at second and third with one out, but Alcides Escobar's squeeze attempt resulted in Jeff Francoeur being thrown out at home. Brayan Pena then struck out to end the threat.
But emotions swung from frustration to elation an inning later with Butler's home run.
"He hit that ball, and we just went wild," third baseman Mike Moustakas said. "We knew we had [Jonathan Broxton] coming in to close it out, and we knew we were coming away with a 'W.'"
Albers, who had not allowed a run in seven games prior to the homer, said it simply was a lack of execution that led to the game-winning hit.
"I'm trying to go down and away right there, which I still think is the right pitch," Albers said. "I talked to [catcher Kelly Shoppach] about it, and I could sit here and second guess, but I didn't execute. I didn't stay back on the rubber quite enough and the ball leaked over the plate. And he's a good hitter."
Butler's blast saved the Royals from what looked to be another loss spurred by a short outing by a starting pitcher. Danny Duffy surrendered four runs in his abbreviated 4 1/3-inning outing on seven hits and five walks, striking out only one batter. Contributing to his early departure was his sky-high pitch count. He had thrown 53 pitches through two innings, 70 through three and 93 through four before exiting with a total of 102.
"I thought it was the worst outing of my year," Duffy said. "I don't feel like I commanded any of my pitches the way I should have, but that being said, my teammates had my back the whole time."
The bullpen picked Duffy up, tossing 4 2/3 scoreless innings, allowing the offense to stage the comeback. Kelvin Herrera pitched 1 2/3 innings, and Jose Mijares pitched two innings, saving the Royals from using long reliever Vin Mazarro, who was called up earlier in the day. Mijares earned the win, his second of the year, and Broxton pitched a 1-2-3 ninth to earn his sixth save of the season.
The Red Sox opened the scoring in the top of the second. Will Middlebrooks scored on an RBI single off the bat of Shoppach, and Duffy issued a bases-loaded walk to Dustin Pedroia to give Boston a 2-0 lead.
The lead didn't last long, thanks in part to Bard.
During a strange at-bat in the bottom of the second, Chris Getz was at the plate with runners at first and second. With a 1-1 count, Bard, who was concerned with Moustakas at first base, balked. Eric Hosmer came home from third base to score, and Moustakas advanced to second base. After two more pitches to Getz, Bard balked again when making a move to second. Moustakas advanced to third, and Getz drove him in on the next pitch with a single into left field, tying the game at 2. Humberto Quintero later singled in Getz to give the Royals a 3-2 lead.
"It was crazy," Moustakas said of the peculiar at-bat. "I didn't really know what was going on. He was pitching a pretty good game, and I was bouncing around just trying to get his attention, I guess. I don't think I did anything to distract him, but he balked twice and it ended up helping us out a lot."
Getz said he was constantly switching his approach during the at-bat, given all the situational changes.
"I've never seen anything like that," Getz said. "My approach changed like three or four times. Man on third, less than two outs, and then all of a sudden infield's back, then infield's in. Things were changing a lot. It was an interesting inning, and I was lucky enough to get a knock there."
While Bard settled down and didn't allow another hit until the sixth inning, Duffy continued to struggle. He allowed the tying run to score with two outs in the fourth, when Mike Aviles doubled and came around to score on a Pedroia single. The Red Sox recaptured the lead an inning later with an unearned run, as Adrian Gonzalez scored on a throwing error by Getz.
Given the rough start the Royals have gotten off to this season, they're hoping a dramatic victory like Tuesday's can jump-start a period of winning baseball.
"The way things have been going, we haven't come back late in games, and hopefully that gets us going," Butler said. "Hopefully that builds confidence not only for me, but for the team and we can feed off that and get out of here with a winning homestand [Wednesday]. That would be huge for us."
Vinnie Duber is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.