Sports

Royals lefty Chen reverses fortunes, cools off Rangers

ARLINGTON -- Bruce Chen entered the game with a career 10.58 ERA against the Texas Rangers, his highest ERA against any opponent.

His lone career victory against them was in 2005.

Times and Chen have changed.

Chen is now a No. 1 pitcher, although for the sub-.500 Kansas City Royals, and pitched like one on Monday night. The crafty lefty held the Rangers in check, leading the Royals to a 3-1 victory at Rangers Ballpark.

It was only the second time this season the Rangers scored only one run.

An Adrian Beltre error in the fourth inning proved costly and cut Scott Feldman's spot start short, but the offense couldn't get anything going against Chen.

The lone highlight came when Nelson Cruz swatted a Club Level solo homer to left field to lead off the fourth inning, the 17th blast in Ballpark history to reach those seats.

Manager Ron Washington didn't have any specific reasons as to why his offense struggled against Chen.

"If I knew, we would have swung the bats better against him," Washington said. "He threw an assortment of off-speed pitches and we could really only smoke one ball, the one that Nelson hit. You've just got to tip your hat."

Outside of that home run, Chen didn't find himself in much trouble. The Rangers put runners on the base, but it always came with two outs.

With two outs in the first, Josh Hamilton drew a walk and Beltre singled but Chen ended that threat by striking out Cruz. With two outs in the third, Hamilton singled but Beltre struck out to end the inning. And it went like that from there.

Chen exited the game in the seventh after he issued a two-out, four-pitch walk to Craig Gentry. Elvis Andrus then reached on an infield single off Royals reliever Kelvin Herrera. But Herrera escaped that jam by striking out Michael Young.

Chen matched his season high with seven strikeouts, and the performance ranks up there with his season opening start when he held the Angels scoreless on three hits over six innings.

"He threw us everything and kept us off-balance," Young said. "Every pitch he had, he made count."

The Royals' offense put Chen in line for the victory in the fifth inning. Trailing 1-0 after Cruz's homer, Kansas City scored two unearned runs off Feldman.

Jeff Francoeur led off the inning with a single to left, but Feldman retired the next two batters. The inning then appeared to be over when Chris Getz sent a grounder to Beltre. However, the Gold Glove third baseman committed only his second error of the season with an errant throw to first to put runners at the corners.

The Royals next batter, Alcides Escobar, came through with a two-run, two-out single that dropped in shallow center in front of the outstretched glove of Gentry. That gave Kansas City its first lead 2-1.

"I just pulled it," Beltre said of his misfired throw. "I didn't get a four-seam grip like I usually do, I got a two-seam grip and the ball cut. ... It's all on me today."

The Royals scored another run in the seventh off reliever Robbie Ross. Francoeur drew a walk, and scored on a double play groundout by Brayan Pena.

The Rangers had a chance in the ninth, bringing the tying run to the plate after David Murphy had a two-out single off Royals closer Jonathan Broxton. But Broxton struck out Mike Napoli looking to end the game.

Washington downplayed any talk of the Rangers being emotionally drained after an intense weekend series against the Angels.

"Not this team," Washington said. "Give Kansas City credit. When we lose, we get beat. We don't use excuses."

Drew Davison, 817-390-7760

Twitter: @drewdavison

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