KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Curt Schilling could find only one serious negative about his first start in four months -- the final score.
The veteran right-hander, who had been in Boston's bullpen most of the season, got cuffed around in his first start since April and the Kansas City Royals beat the Red Sox 7-4 on Thursday night, their fourth win in five games since a franchise-record 19-game losing streak.
"I didn't feel like I had super stuff and I didn't feel like I had bad stuff," Schilling said. "I felt normal."
Schilling (5-6) went five innings, giving up six runs and nine hits. Making his first start since losing to Tampa Bay on April 23, he walked one and had five strikeouts, including the last two batters he faced.
"In the fifth inning I thought I got more comfortable," he said. "I didn't throw my first split until the ninth hitter of the game, which is not something that happens to me a lot. I only think I threw three in the first four innings. A lot of that was confidence. I didn't feel real comfortable with it."
The six-time All-Star, who led the majors last year with 21 wins and then led the Red Sox to the World Series title, went on the disabled list on April 29 with a right ankle bruise after going 1-2 in three starts. He missed 69 games, then was 4-3 with nine saves in 11 opportunities while filling in for injured closer Keith Foulke. It was his first regular bullpen work since 1992.
He got the save in all three of the Red Sox' victories over the Royals in Boston on Aug. 2-4.
"We got some hits off him early," said Emil Brown, who had three hits, including a 422-foot solo homer off Jonathan Papelbon in the eighth. "I wouldn't say he was a hittable pitcher. He didn't look ordinary."
While going 4-6 on their 10-game road trip, the first-place Red Sox saw their lead over the New York Yankees in the AL East shrink from 4½ games to 2½.
"It's a loss," Schilling said. "I can't search for things and try to figure things out at the expense of this ballclub. Not now. Not in August. Not with a 2½-game lead. Tonight was a night when I certainly had the stuff to win and just did not execute."
In the fifth, Hocking scored from first on a close play at the plate on David DeJesus' double. DeJesus scored on Long's sacrifice fly to make it 6-2.
Hocking's one-out RBI single was the first run the Royals scored behind Jose Lima (5-12) in 24 2/3 innings, just short of the team record of 25 1/3 scoreless innings behind Kevin Appier. Lima went five-plus innings and was charged with three runs and five hits. He walked two and had one strikeout.
Mike MacDougal pitched the ninth for his 17th save.
Schilling began the season on the 15-day disabled list recovering from surgery to repair a detached tendon in his right ankle, a condition which caused blood to seep through his right sock while he pitched in the World Series and created one of the most compelling images of the year.
"I don't think we saw Schilling at his best tonight," Kansas City manager Buddy Bell said. "But we took advantage of it and that's what we have to do when a guy like that is not at the top of his game."
The Royals, after the 19-game losing streak, have beaten Oakland and Boston twice each. It was their first home series win over the Red Sox since Aug. 1-3, 1997.
"If we play solid baseball, we can play with anybody," Long said. "We've got to play almost perfect baseball, which is tough to do every day."
- Royals 1B Matt Stairs appeared to injure himself stretching for a line drive in the fourth and was replaced by Joe McEwing. The team said he had a left hamstring strain and was day-to-day.
- The Royals put INF Donnie Murphy on the 15-day DL and recalled OF Aaron Guiel from Triple-A Omaha. Murphy injured his finger on Wednesday night. Guiel was hitting .276 at Omaha with 30 home runs and 94 RBI.
- The Red Sox will make up their rained-out game of Aug. 14 against Chicago on Sept. 5, a scheduled day off. Without another day off until Sept. 22, Boston will play 30 consecutive days.
- Boston's David Ortiz did not start Thursday night after bruising his hand on a slide the night before.