KC’s Chen muffles Boston 5-1

Bruce Chen - ROYALSVeteran right hander Bruce Chen checked Boston’s bats on five singles over seven and two thirds innings Thursday night as Kansas City handled the Red Sox 5-1 in game one of a four game series. Chen walked one, struck out two and enticed the Red Sox into 14 lazy fly ball outs to improve his record to 5-0 on the year.

John Lester struggled through an ugly first inning in which the Royals forced him to throw 41 pitches. Kansas City combined two hits and two walks with a costly error on left fielder Jonny Gomes to post three runs in the bottom of the first, then Chen put the Red Sox to sleep with a good mix of off-speed pitches.

Boston’s lone run came in the top of the ninth when Gomes cracked a double off KC reliever Luke Hochevar and scored on Stephen Drew’s double. Any hopes of another Red Sox comeback were dashed when Mike Napoli grounded into a game ending double play. The Red Sox came into Kansas City having won six of their last seven games in come from behind fashion.

Hochevar took over for Chen with two gone in the Boston eighth and finished off the inning by getting Shane Victorino to pop out to third base.

Lester settled down after the rocky first inning and finished the game by yielding just one of the three runs in the first as an earned run. He tossed 121 pitches through seven innings, giving up just four total hits, walking two and striking out four. He took the loss to drop to 10-7 on the season. Ruby De La Rosa relieved Lester in the Kansas City half of the eighth and was promptly blasted by solo home runs off the bats of Billy Butler and Jason Maxwell, providing the Royals with a pair of insurance runs.

The loss dropped Boston to 70-47 on the season, including a 31-26 mark on the road. The Red Sox have lost three of their four games against the Royals so far this season. Boston committed three errors in Thursday night’s loss.
(Line up changes) DH David Ortiz was given Thursday night off in what the team called a normal day of rest. It made sense with the lefty Chen getting the start for KC and the fact Ortiz may be tired of running the bases. Boston’s designated hitter has collected eight singles in his last nine at bats over the past two games. Mike Napoli filled in as DH Thursday night against Kansas City. Ortiz raised his batting average from .318 to .332 with his two-game singles binge. Napoli, meanwhile, has been slumping and striking out with regularity of late. He took extra batting practice this week in an effort to shorten his stroke. Manager John Farrell indicated there may be some discussion about moving Napoli out of the fifth spot in Boston’s batting order until he regains his stroke.

(Roster moves) Pitcher Steven Wright, who could not control his knuckle ball inside the Astrodome and surrendered three runs in just one inning against Houston earlier this week has been optioned back to Triple-A Pawtucket. The Red Sox overcame Wright’s balky spot start and a 5-0 deficit to rally for an improbable 15-10 victory. The move allows the Red Sox to re-activate outfielder Daniel Nava, who has been on paternity leave for the last three days to be bedside with his wife for the couple’s birth of the newest member of Red Sox nation, daughter Faith.

(On Deck) Game two of the Royals-Red Sox series Friday night has the promise of a great pitching match-up. Boston’s Jake Peavy, fresh off a 5-2 win in his season debut as a Red Sox last weekend versus the Diamondbacks, comes in at 9-4 with a 4.14 ERA. He will face off against Ervin Santana, 8-6 on the year, with an impressive 2.97 ERA and a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 120/34.


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