KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Head congested, body weak, sneezes machine-gunning from his nose, Clay Buchholz figured it was going to be a tough night.
Turned out to be just like the rest of his outings over the past two months.
Buchholz shook off a head cold to take a shutout into the seventh inning, and David Ortiz homered and drove in three runs to help the Boston Red Sox move closer to the postseason with a 10-3 victory against the Kansas City Royals on Thursday night.
"I was expecting to have to battle through, especially after the first inning," Buchholz said after his second scoreless outing this season. "I threw some good pitches that got hit, left some pitches up and was able to bounce back the next inning and got on a pretty good roll."
So are the Red Sox.
Boston had 15 hits and has won 12 of 15, lowering its magic number for clinching the AL wild card to three. The Red Sox did it, as usual, with production throughout the lineup.
Ortiz hit his second homer in two games in the fourth inning, added a two-run single in the ninth. Jacoby Ellsbury had four hits and two RBI. Victor Martinez extended his hitting streak to 23 games and Dustin Pedroia pushed his to 16 games.
Next up? A weekend road series against the AL East-leading Yankees.
"Every game is important now," Martinez said.
Royals starter Anthony Lerew (0-1) had a solid return to the majors and Billy Butler hit a two-run homer for Kansas City. The rest of the Royals unraveled around them with five errors -- two by shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt - six unearned runs and two ejections.
It's nothing new: Kansas City has 110 errors, second-worst in the AL.
"Poor focus and concentration," Royals manager Trey Hillman said. "Obviously, with the numbers of errors we've had, it's disappointing, especially when we had a chance to win three out of four from this club. It's disappointing we had the letdown from a defensive standpoint."
Buchholz (7-3) has solidified his spot in Boston's postseason rotation, going 6-0 over his past eight starts after an uneven start to the season.
The right-hander shook off the effects of a head cold that started Tuesday, retiring 13 straight batters after working out of a two-on, one-out jam in the first inning. He allowed five hits and struck out eight with no walks in 6 2/3 innings.
"He didn't have his best curveball tonight, but that didn't get in the way -- he used other pitches," said Red Sox manager, who moved past Mike Higgins for second on Boston's all-time list with win No. 561. "He's a pretty solid pitcher."
The Royals gave Buchholz plenty of help with a flurry of errors and ejections.
Third baseman Mark Teahen had a fielding error in the third that led to a run, then Betancourt booted one in the fourth that allowed Mike Lowell to score. Pedroia later added a sacrifice fly to put Boston up 4-0.
Betancourt had another fielding error in the eighth that scored a run and second baseman Alberto Callaspo had one in the ninth for another run that put Boston up 8-3. It was Kansas City's first five-error game since Sept. 6, 2002, against Seattle.
Royals ace Zack Greinke got the hook first, tossed from the bench by plate umpire Greg Gibson in the third after Lerew's 1-2 pitch to Ellsbury was called a ball.
Hillman was sent off the next inning after Lerew nearly hit Lowell with back-to-back breaking balls and Gibson warned both benches. Hillman had to be separated from Gibson by crew chief Tim McClelland, then lingered on the field for several minutes before finally leaving.
"I thought it was very poor judgment because there's got to be intent," Hillman said. "Both were secondary pitches with velocity of 76 and 78 mph. You don't have any intent with a secondary pitch that slips."
The outbursts and outtakes spoiled Lerew's return to the big leagues after a two-year absence.
Back from Tommy John surgery, the right-hander kept Boston's bashers offbalance most of the night with a mix of low-90s fastballs and off-speed pitches. Even the home run by Ortiz wasn't a mistake: Boston's slugger reached down for a 1-2 pitch near his ankles and yanked it out to right-center for his 26th homer.
Lerew allowed two earned runs -- four total -- on seven hits in 4 2/3 innings.
"It wasn't as good as I wanted it to be," Lerew said after his first start since May 19, 2007, with Atlanta. "I made some good pitches. I just didn't get some calls."
- Red Sox 1B Kevin Youkilis and RF J.D. Drew were given the night off.
- With the 2-2 split, Kansas City failed in its bid to win five consecutive series for the first time since 1993.