BOSTON -- Sandy Leon is not the kind of player you think of when you talk about speed.
But very late Saturday night, the Boston catcher used his legs and wits to score the winning run in the 10th inning to cap a wild Red Sox 9-8 victory over the surging Kansas City Royals.
"I saw (catcher Sal Butera) reach for the ball, so the right side was wide open so I decided to go for it without him touching me," Leon said after getting his hand in and around Butera for the winning run, which he scored on Eduardo Nunez's groundout.
There was a delay as the Royals, who had their nine-game winning streak snapped, looked for a replay, but Leon said, "I knew it because he didn't touch me. It was close, but he didn't touch me."
With runners at second and third and one out, Nunez, who had already homered twice and singled in his second game with his new team, hit a grounder into the drawn-in infield. Shortstop Alcides Escobar gloved the ball with a dive and threw Nunez out at first. But Leon, who thought Mookie Betts was going to get trapped off second, took off down the line from third and beat the tag after the throw came in from first baseman Eric Hosmer, who pulled the same thing on the New York Mets in Game 5 of the 2015 World Series.
"That was a great job (by) Leon," said Nunez, who was rewarded with a face full of baby powder. "He saw the whole play right in front of him."
Leon entered the game in the ninth inning, replacing Christian Vazquez, who had a single, double, triple and two RBIs but was taken out for a pinch runner in the eighth.
Leon cut down speedy pinch runner Terrance Gore attempting to steal second in the ninth before leading off the 10th with a double off Mike Minor (5-3). A Minor wild pitch helped set up the winning run after Betts was walked intentionally.
"It goes to Sandy's readiness to make a throw as he did," said Boston manager John Farrell. "Some may say it's a risky move to make a change with a catcher late but Sandy came up big on both sides of the ball -- the leadoff double, the cut down of Gore and the acrobatic slide to finish it."
The four-hour, 45-minute win, which allowed the Red Sox to remain a half-game behind the New York Yankees in the American League East, was Boston's second in the last seven games and raised the Red Sox's record to 7-9 since the All-Star break.
Sacrifice flies by Jackie Bradley Jr. and Betts in the seventh and eighth innings brought the Red Sox back into a tie -- after the Royals scored four in the sixth to take an 8-6 lead.
The loss dropped the Royals three games behind the winning Cleveland Indians, who have won nine straight and come to Boston on Monday, in the AL Central.
"We missed the tag at the plate but (Escobar) made a great play stopping it and wheeling and throwing to first and (Hosmer) got rid of it as quick as he could," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "It was just a tough play. It was a great slide."
Matt Barnes (6-2) worked a one-hit 10th for the win.
Witt Merrifield went 4-for-6 with two RBIs and Lorenzo Cain hit a three-run homer for Kansas City.
Boston starter Eduardo Rodriguez threw 107 pitches in four innings, leaving down 4-2, while Trevor Cahill, making his debut with his new team, left after four-plus innings after surrendering Nunez's second straight homer.
Nunez is 5-for-9 with a walk in his first two games with the Red Sox -- and he didn't even mind "Baby powder in my eyes. I didn't even see, after that. That was fun."
The Royals homered for the 10th straight game and Nunez's two homers matched the opposition total registered against Kansas City during the nine-game winning streak.
"A lot of offense. Eight runs," Yost said.
NOTES: LHP David Price, on the disabled list with a recurrence of his left elbow injury (he said the injury isn't as bad as last time), spoke to the media about Dennis Eckersley for the first time since he lambasted the Hall of Famer and club broadcaster on a team flight. He didn't back off, saying, "Fans hear what (broadcasters) say, they're going to believe what they read and what they hear on TV, that's not us. If Eck was around, he'd know who we are. He's never in the clubhouse." He said he will "talk it out" with Eckersley, who is in Cooperstown this weekend. Price did admit "I could have handled it a different way." ... RHP Al Alburquerque, who had been designated for assignment by the Royals, was placed on unconditional release waivers. ... Boston shipped DFAd LHP Luis Ysla to the Dodgers for cash considerations. ... Red Sox 2B Dustin Pedroia rested a sore knee. ... RHP Jason Hammel, winless in his last six starts since beating Boston on June 19, faces LH Drew Pomeranz on Sunday, when the Red Sox honor their 2007 champions.