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Red Sox lose fourth straight

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -- The Boston Red Sox may not like hearing
this, but Jimmy Gobble has had even better outings.

The 22-year-old rookie left-hander retired 15 consecutive
batters after Johnny Damon's leadoff double in the first and led
the Kansas City Royals to a 5-2 victory Friday night.

"I don't think it's the best I've pitched," said Gobble (3-3),
who gave up five hits and two runs in six innings.

"But as far as legs and body-wise, I felt good and I felt like
I was throwing the ball where I wanted to for the most part. The
sixth inning got a little rocky, but I battled out of it."

Jeremy Affeldt pitched a perfect ninth for his sixth save in
seven chances as the Red Sox lost their fourth in a row -- and sixth
in eight games -- and fell to a season-worst 3{ games behind
first-place New York in the AL East.

"This is no fun," Boston manager Terry Francona said. "You
show up tomorrow and you grind through it and make good things
happen. Right now, we're just not quite doing that. If we stay at
it, we will because we have the ability to be a good team."

After Damon led off with a double and was stranded at third,
Gobble didn't allow another baserunner until Doug Mirabelli homered
leading off the sixth.

Tim Wakefield (4-4) went 6 2-3 innings and was charged with five
runs on nine hits as his career record against Kansas City dropped
to 9-4.

"I'm just not making good pitches right now," the veteran
knuckleballer said. "It felt like the ball was moving all right.
It wasn't moving like it's supposed to. I just wasn't making good
pitches when I needed to."

Angel Berroa drove in two runs with a single and a triple,
Carlos Beltran had two singles for his fourth straight multihit
game and Ken Harvey stretched his career-best hitting streak to 13
games in a row for the Royals.

Harvey, who entered tied with Baltimore's Melvin Mora for the AL
batting lead at .379, singled to load the bases with no outs in the
fifth. The Royals then got two runs to go up 5-0 when Wakefield
walked Matt Stairs and gave up an RBI single to Joe Randa. Harvey
was 1-for-4 and dropped to .376.

"I don't see the ball very well off Wakefield, to be honest
with you," Harvey said. "For me, it's very, very difficult. When
you think it's where it is, it's not. It looks like a good pitch to
hit and then it just seems to disappear."

With one out in the sixth, Damon and Mark Bellhorn singled and
David Ortiz followed with a double into center. Damon scored easily
to make cut the deficit to 5-2, but Bellhorn was trapped between
home and third and tagged out.

Francona said Gobble "was impressive"

"He used his offspeed pitches and set up his fastball with his
offspeed," he said. "He got far enough into the game where they
could use the guys they wanted to."

Beltran had an RBI single in the first. Benito Santiago made it
2-0 in the second when he slid around catcher Mirabelli's tag to
score from second on Berroa's single into center. In the fourth,
Berroa's RBI triple put the Royals on top 3-0.

Game notes
Royals manager Tony Pena celebrated his 47th birthday
Friday. ... Gobble took care of the Red Sox 1-2-3 on seven pitches
in the top of the third, and Wakefield needed only nine tosses to
do the same thing in the bottom of the inning. ... The Red Sox were
playing their fourth opponent in three cities and three time zones
in a five-game span. ... Berroa barely missed a grand slam in the
fifth when his drive into left curved foul. ... Boston had won 10
of 12 from Kansas City. ... Boston SS Nomar Garciaparra was 1-for-4
in a rehab assignment at Triple-A Pawtucket on Friday. The Red Sox
hope to have him in the lineup early next week for the first time
this season. ... At 13-14, the Red Sox fell below .500 on the road.