Ellsbury matched a career high with four hits and drove in a pair of runs to lead the Boston Red Sox to a 5-3 win over the Kansas City Royals on Saturday night.
Ellsbury had RBI-doubles in the fourth and sixth innings and also stole his major league-leading 42nd base. It was his 10th career four-hit game and second this season.
''I'm seeing the ball and driving it, putting some good swings on the ball,'' Ellsbury said. ''I feel like I've been swinging the bat well and all you can do is get hard contact.
''Fortunately tonight they fell in. I've always been a big believer that it's just a matter of time. I've put a lot of work into it, into hitting and making good contact.''
The Red Sox lead the American League with 71 victories, while the Royals lost for just the third time in 18 games.
''It was definitely a nice win for us,'' Ellsbury said. ''Tonight, all three games really, it's been a dogfight. They're playing well and we're playing well. We'll come out and try to split the series tomorrow.''
Ellsbury also ran down Miguel Tejada's sharp liner to end the first with the bases loaded and Jarrod Dyson's sinking line drive in the eighth with a runner on second.
''There's a lot of ground to cover,'' Ellsbury said. ''If you hit the ball in the air here you have a chance to track it down.''
Ellsbury saved runs and drove in runs.
''On both sides of the ball excellent, great defensive play in the outfield this whole series,'' Royals manager Ned Yost said. ''He's just a tough, tough out.''
The Red Sox scored four runs in the fourth. Will Middlebrooks, who was just recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket, fueled the rally with a two-run single. Stephen Drew drove in a run with a double, extending his hitting streak to a season-best 11 games.
The Royals answered with a three-run fifth. Eric Hosmer and Billy Butler drilled back-to-back RBI doubles and Miguel Tejada hit a two-out single.
Tejada, 39, who has started 22 games at second base, left with tightness in his right calf while diving for Carp's single in the seventh and was replaced by Elliot Johnson.
''We're evaluating it now,'' Yost said.
Red Sox starter Felix Doubront failed to get an out in the fifth, facing four batters before being replaced by Brandon Workman. Doubront gave up three runs on six hits and four walks.
Royals right-hander Jeremy Guthrie (12-8), who had won his previous four starts, threw a season-high 123 pitches in seven innings, allowing five runs on 10 hits and a walk. Ellsbury has a career .435 average against Guthrie.
''With his speed and his ability to put wood on the ball, he's a tough hitter,'' Guthrie said. ''He's always been very tough for me and I didn't execute very well.''
Ellsbury drove in Middlebrooks with a sixth-inning double for the final run off Guthrie.
''He squared up some balls tonight and gave me a chance to get around the bases,'' Middlebrooks said.
Workman (3-1) picked up his second victory of the week with 1 1-3 scoreless innings. Koji Uehara pitched a flawless ninth to collect his 12th save in 15 chances.
Billy Butler had three hits, including two doubles, for the Royals, who loaded the bases in the first but came away empty.
''We had chances early,'' Butler said. ''We had Doubront's pitch count up, but we couldn't get anything out of it early. We just couldn't quite crack him.''
NOTES: Both clubs made four roster moves before the game. The Red Sox recalled Middlebrooks, who was hitting .269 with 10 home runs for Pawtucket, and activated LHP Franklin Morales from the disabled list. They placed IF Brandon Snyder, sore right elbow, on the 15-day DL and optioned RHP Pedro Beato to Pawtucket. ... The Royals placed OF Lorenzo Cain on the disabled list with a pulled left oblique. They recalled LHPs Will Smith and Donnie Joseph from Triple-A Omaha and designated for assignment LHP Francisley Bueno, who picked up the victory Friday with 2 1-3 scoreless innings against the Red Sox. ... Royals RHP Wade Davis, who has been on the family emergency leave after the death of his step-brother, will be activated Sunday and will start Monday against Miami. ... The Royals are optimistic C Salvador Perez, who is on the concussion list, would get the clearance to be activated Sunday.
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