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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Hapless Sox Raise Hopes, Then Dash Them

BOSTON, Massachusetts -- The players wandered out of Boston's Fenway Park with vacant gazes. The coaches sat in a row, staring straight ahead. The manager vacillated between anger and disbelief.

After experiencing the worst start in franchise history, after finding new and uglier ways to lose, the 1996 Red Sox may have hit bottom Sunday.

They climbed back from a three-run deficit to take a 7-6 lead in the eighth on a three-run homer by Mo Vaughn and an RBI-single by Wil Cordero. It was the type of comeback that might inspire a listless team.

But the comeback was quickly erased. Closer Heathcliff Slocumb was unable to preserve the lead and the Royals completed a sweep of the Red Sox with a 9-7 victory at Fenway Park.

Slocumb (0-1, 2.35 ERA) allowed three runs, including Bob Hamelin's two-run homer.

The Red Sox (6-19) lost three in a row to the Royals (9-16), who entered the series tied with Boston for the worst record in baseball.

Before the series, the Red Sox seemed close to breaking out with two victories over the Texas Rangers. But now it seems they never left the funk.

"I've never seen anything like this in my life," manager Kevin Kennedy said. "Not this long, not when you plug one hole and another opens up."

What's left for the Red Sox to do? The bullpen seemed settled, as Stan Belinda, Mike Stanton and Slocumb were pitching well. The biggest need appeared to be a No.1 starter.

Now, it is doubtful that an ace -- such as Royals righthander Kevin Appier -- would make much difference. Kennedy and the coaches have worked with the players, held meetings and shuffled the roster.

They could make Belinda the closer and Slocumb a setup man. They could promote Jeff Suppan or Vaughn Eshelman from the minors and add them to the rotation. But those changes would be cosmetic.

Slocumb allowed singles to David Howard and Keith Lockhart -- the No. 8 and No. 9 hitters -- and a sacrifice fly to Bip Roberts. Kennedy visited the mound and told Slocumb to forget the run. The Red Sox would win it in the bottom of the inning.

The pep talk had no impact as Slocumb gave up Hamelin's homer.

"They got a slap base hit and it snowballed, they got a broken bat base hit and it snowballed," Slocumb said. "The guys battled back and gave it all they've got. It hurts."

(For other results, see Scorecard.)