KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Bruce Chen outdueled Francisco Liriano to make a lone run scored in the second inning stand up Tuesday night, giving the Kansas City Royals a 1-0 victory over the Minnesota Twins.
Chen (5-5) allowed four hits without a walk to win for the fifth time in six starts. The 34-year-old left-hander relied on some veteran guile to strike out five without allowing a runner past second.
Liriano (1-6) allowed only four hits in six innings, but three of them came in the second when the Twins’ failure to turn a double play proved costly. It allowed Brayan Pena to send an RBI single rolling through the left side of the infield for the game’s only run.
Greg Holland worked around an error in the eighth for Kansas City, and Jonathan Broxton left runners on first and second in the ninth for his 14th save of the season.
Chen has been the Royals’ most dependable starter the past couple seasons, and he proved his worth to their patchwork rotation again versus their AL Central rivals.
He retired the first six batters he faced, and then helped himself after Brian Dozier singled to lead off the third by catching him trying to steal. The only other hits Chen allowed were a double by Dozier and singles by Darin Mastroianni and Jamey Carroll.
Liriano, who had just snapped a personal six-game skid, kept Minnesota in the game.
He struck out eight while yielding only one walk in six sharp innings, even matching a major league record when he struck out four batters in the fourth — Jeff Francoeur swung and missed at a pitch in the dirt, allowing him to reach base with the strikeout.
It was the third time this season that a pitcher has fanned four in an inning.
The only blemish against Liriano — the only real blemish in the game — came in the second inning, when Francoeur singled and Eric Hosmer chopped a pitch back at Liriano.
He whirled around and threw to Dozier covering second base, but his throw to Justin Morneau at first was not in time to get Hosmer hustling down the line. The double play would have ended the inning, but instead, Hosmer promptly stole second base to get into scoring position.
That’s when Pena slipped a grounder between third base and shortstop for an RBI single.
Kansas City’s starting rotation has struggled much of the season, but has been a big reason why the Royals are positioned for a winning six-game homestand. They received superb starts from Felipe Paulino and Vin Mazzaro to take two of three from Oakland, both by 2-0 margins.