Chen, Royals baffle Orioles

The SportsXchange

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Bruce Chen went from the 2012 Opening Day starter to the Kansas City Royals' bullpen at the start of the 2013 season.

Chen, however, is back in the rotation and pitching very effectively.

The 36-year-old left-hander and three relievers combined for a five-hitter as the Royals beat Baltimore 3-2 Tuesday night, ending the Orioles' five-game winning streak.

Chen, who was making his second start since replacing Luis Mendoza in the rotation, retired the final 10 hitters he faced after Manny Machado hit a solo homer in the third. Chen (4-0) allowed just three hits and the one run in six innings.

"I'm trying to do everything to help the team win, no matter what the role," Chen said. "I'm very happy with the way we played today.

"We scored early, played good defense, the bullpen did a great job and (catcher) George Kottaras called a great game. I don't think I shook him off once."

In his two starts, Chen has allowed one run and four hits in 12 innings.

"Bruce is a veteran pitcher, very savvy," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "He has a lot of deception in his delivery and disrupts the hitter's timing. He changes speeds, throwing his fastball at 83 and at 87 (mph). And the 87 looks like 94."

Chen struck out four and walked none before departing after 94 pitches, 63 of them strikes.

"He keeps you off-balance and never gives in," Orioles cleanup hitter Adam Jones said. "It's a true testament to how he's maintained all these years in the majors. He's not tricking you, but he's making his pitches. I was standing out in center field wondering how ... we only have three hits."

Closer Greg Holland gave up a single to Nick Markakis and an RBI triple to Jones to start the ninth. However, Holland retired the next three batters to log his 25th save.

"I was fortunate to get ground balls," Holland said.

He struck out Chris Davis, who tops the big leagues with 37 home runs, and retired J.J. Hardy and Henry Urrutia on a grounders to strand Jones at third.

"The chances of him (Jones) scoring are pretty high with Davis at the plate," Chen said.

Holland made sure it did not happen.

Jason Hammel (7-7) took the loss, falling to 0-5 with a 5.47 ERA in his past nine starts. He gave up three runs on 10 hits and four walks in six innings.

"I wouldn't call it a battle. I'd call it a war," Hammel said. "I wanted to get some quick outs and get the guys back into the dugout, but it just didn't happen. I threw a lot of pitches, and they beat a lot of balls into the turf. I gave up a lot of runners, and Chen threw a good game."

The Royals loaded the bases with no outs in the first on Alex Gordon and Eric Hosmer singles and a Lorenzo Cain walk, but they converted that into just one run when Billy Butler grounded into a double play.

The Royals added another run in the second when Chris Getz's single scored David Lough, who led off the inning with a single and motored to third on Alcides Escobar's single. With runners at second and third and one out, the Royals wasted an opportunity to pad their lead when Gordon struck out and Hosmer lined out to first.

Machado homered with two outs in the top of the third to cut Kansas City's lead to 2-1. Machado took an 0-1 Chen pitch out to left-center for his eighth homer of the season.

Mike Moustakas' double in the third scored Cain, hiking the Royals' lead to 3-1. With runners on second and third and none out, Hammel prevented further damage by retiring the next three Royals on three infield outs.

NOTES: The Orioles added bullpen depth by acquiring RHP Francisco Rodriguez from Milwaukee, for whom he was 1-1 with 10 saves and a 1.09 ERA. Rodriguez, 31, has 304 career saves. The Orioles sent minor league INF Nick Delmonico to the Brewers. ... Royals RHP Wade Davis, who is 0-4 with a 10.91 ERA in his past four starts, is scheduled to start Saturday at Chicago against the White Sox. Manager Ned Yost made it clear that Davis must pitch better to stay in the rotation. "He needs to get it going," Yost said. ... Orioles OF Nolan Reimold underwent season-ending surgery in Clearwater, Fla., to alleviate nerve inflammation in his cervical spine. He was transferred to the 60-day disabled list. It was Reimold's second back surgery in 13 months.
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