CLEVELAND — Bruce Chen did everything right in his first start of the season.
Unfortunately for the Kansas City Royals, he got no help from the bullpen or the lineup.
Tim Collins and Aaron Crow allowed five straight hits and three runs in the seventh inning, sending Kansas City to a 3-0 loss to the Cleveland Indians on Friday night.
Chen pitched six innings of one-hit ball, but the Royals managed just five hits against Corey Kluber (7-5) and relievers Joe Smith and Cody Allen in their third consecutive loss.
Collins (2-4) allowed singles by Jason Kipnis and Nick Swisher to open the seventh. Carlos Santana greeted Crow with an RBI single, Mark Reynolds bunted for a hit, and pinch hitter Michael Bourn followed with a two-run double that provided all of the offense Cleveland would need.
Chen struck out four and walked one while throwing 97 pitches, but wound up with a no-decision.
“Bruce was outstanding and is a great pitcher, so it doesn’t surprise me how well he did,” Crow said. “I expect him to do this every time out. My job was to keep runs from scoring, and I didn’t do it.
“Reynolds sensed something that could happen, and made a great play by bunting. That pitch to Bourn was down and in, almost on the ground, so that was just a great piece of hitting. Obviously, I wish things had gone differently.”
So did the 36-year-old Chen, who was working on a no-hitter before Santana led off the fifth with a double. Chen, who was 3-0 with a 2.41 ERA in 19 relief appearances, took the spot of right-hander Luis Mendoza in Kansas City’s rotation.
“Bruce really threw the ball well for us,” manager Ned Yost said. “I suppose he could have gone longer, but realistically, he had done his job. He threw six strong innings.”
The Royals loaded the bases with one out in the fifth, but Kluber struck out All-Star Alex Gordon, and then induced Eric Hosmer into hitting a grounder back to the mound for the third out.
Kansas City also threatened in the ninth against Allen, loading the bases with two outs. Jarrod Dyson came to the plate as the potential winning run, but struck out.
“I’m very happy with the way I pitched today,” said Chen, who hasn’t allowed a run on the road in 14 1-3 innings this season. “I did everything I could to help us win, but Kluber was just a little bit better. Sometimes you have to give credit, like today, because he made some great pitches and pitched out of some tough situations.”
Cleveland manager Terry Francona praised Chen for matching Kluber pitch for pitch.
“I’ve seen him do that for so many years,” Francona said. “If you try to do too much, you just play right into it. He adds a little, he takes a little off. Different angles, up down. He really knows how to pitch. He frustrated us.”
Mike Moustakas had two hits for the Royals, and David Lough tripled in the fifth.
Kluber allowed three hits, struck out eight and walked three in 7 2/3 innings. Smith recorded the final out in the eighth and Allen finished for his second save.
NOTES: Royals SS Alcides Escobar batted seventh for the first time this season, going 1 for 4. He has hit second 67 times, ninth 13 times, and atop the order on four occasions. “He’ll be back in the two-spot tomorrow with a lefty starting, but he struggles against right-handed pitchers, so we’re going to vary where he bats from day to day,” Yost said. Escobar is hitting .302 against lefties and .222 against righties. … Royals 2B Elliot Johnson, who made his first start since Sunday, is 1 for 27 (.037) since June 20. … Royals OF David Lough is an Akron native. He tripled in the fourth inning and went 1 for 4. … Royals RHP Jeremy Guthrie (8-6) takes on Indians LHP Scott Kazmir (4-4) in the second game of the three-game series Saturday.