BOSTON -- A busted play by Kansas City broke the Boston Red Sox in a late, late drama on Monday night. Make that Tuesday morning.
The end result was a 14-inning, 3-1 victory for the Royals in front of the scattered fans and empty seats that remained from the sellout crowd of 37,727 at Fenway Park.
The end came at a minute before 2 a.m. ET after a long rain delay and what matched the Royals' longest of their 16 extra-inning games this season.
"Wow!" Royals manager Ned Yost said. "I don't know what else to say. It was a great game."
Eric Hosmer opened the 14th with a double down the left-field line against left-handed reliever Randy Williams. Jeff Francoeur singled him to third. Mike Aviles, on what was supposed to be a safety squeeze play, popped his bunt high over first baseman Adrian Gonzalez and it dropped to the ground. Second baseman Dustin Pedroia fielded the ball and got the out at first but Hosmer scored to snap the 1-1 tie.
The play was triggered when Francoeur broke off first base.
"If Frenchy doesn't break there, which he wasn't supposed to do, then Gonzalez doesn't break and he probably catches the ball," Yost said.
That would have stopped the wheels in motion and possibly resulted in a double play. But only Aviles was out, credited with an RBI and a sacrifice bunt, and the Royals had the lead.
"We all kind of screwed up. I didn't even see the squeeze [sign]. Sometimes you just need breaks," Francoeur said with a smile. "We just tried to get guys going all over the place so Mike could scoot it over his head."
At third base, Hosmer misread the sign.
"I thought it was a [suicide] squeeze and I was about to break. And I saw Frenchy break and I thought he was picking off and so I just kind of held my ground," Hosmer said. "I saw Mikey bunt it and still held my ground, then I ran home."
Brayan Pena followed with a single that got Francoeur to third and he scored an insurance run on Alcides Escobar's sacrifice fly to center.
Joakim Soria came in to pitch the 14th and, pitching around Josh Reddick's ground-rule double to right-center, struck out the side. He got his 18th save this season and the 150th of his career.
The Red Sox had their own botched squeeze play in the 12th, but that didn't turn out so well. Reddick, who'd singled, got to third when reliever Louis Coleman misfired on a pickoff throw with one out. Then Marco Scutaro missed the squeeze sign and failed to bunt. Reddick, breaking down the line, was trapped and tagged out.
"We just missed a sign. After action like that, I thought it was a good opportunity," Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. "We got half of it right. We didn't get the whole thing right. Red got it, and Scut didn't. We had some other opportunities, too. We kind of let them off the hook, it felt like. I know there's not much sleep anyway, but that'll be a tough one tonight."
Indeed, the Red Sox had two runners on base in the ninth against Aaron Crow; two on in the 11th against Greg Holland and two on in the 13th against Coleman and failed to score each time.
"Our bullpen was fantastic," Yost said.
His starter was pretty good, too. Kyle Davies worked six innings and allowed just one run on Reddick's RBI double in the second inning. He gave up six hits and one walk with six strikeouts.
"That was Kyle's best game of the year, against that offensive lineup over there," Yost said.
Reddick didn't dispute that assessment of Davies.
"We didn't see much of the fastball," Reddick said. "He pretty much stuck to the changeup and curveball and kind of kept us off-balance even though we were sitting fastball in fastball counts and he kept us offspeed."
Davies was matched against a left-hander who had a record of mastery over Kansas City. Jon Lester pitched a no-hitter against the Royals in 2008, one of all four starts that he's won against them at Fenway. He'd allowed just one run in 32 innings (0.28 ERA) in those games. His one loss to them came in KC.
The two pitchers had to wait a while to get going, though. The start of the game was delayed 2 hours, 21 minutes by rain and didn't begin until 9:31 p.m. ET. Little did they know that it wouldn't end for another 4 hours, 28 minutes.
Melky Cabrera, who was 7-for-18 against Lester in his days with the Yankees, made certain there'd be no no-hitter this time by lining a single to right field in the first inning.
It was Cabrera who later scored the only run against Lester. He got the second of his four singles in the sixth and dashed home as Billy Butler drilled a double into the left-field corner.
Carl Crawford's throw skipped through third baseman Kevin Youkilis, inspiring Butler to try for third. But he was out on catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia's throw.
That was Lester's last inning and that's how it stood, 1-1, until the decisive 14th.
And that's when the Royals messed up the play that gave them a victory, their 10th in 16 overtime games.
"A play we don't practice much," Yost said wryly. "But first and third and the runner [Francoeur] breaks and the bunter bunts it over the first baseman's head. We finally had the opportunity to try it and it worked pretty good."
He was making a joke, easy to do when you've come out on top in a marathon.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.