Chen rules Mariners again in 2-1 Royals’ win


SEATTLE (AP) — Bruce Chen uses different arm angles on his delivery to the plate that can deceive hitters. At times, he even fools himself.

“I feel like the hitter doesn’t know, up, down or middle, anywhere. I don’t even know. Sometimes I lift up leg and feel like I’m going up or I’m going down,” said Chen, who scattered three hits over seven innings and the Kansas City Royals held off the Seattle Mariners 2-1 on Saturday night.

Blake Wood worked a scoreless eighth and Joakim Soria finished it with a little drama in the ninth. Chone Figgins opened with a single and moved to second on a fielder’s choice. Soria then struck out Branyan and Franklin Gutierrez.

Soria picked up his 31st save in 33 opportunities. His 31 saves matches Tampa Bay’s Rafael Soriano for the most in the American League. It also was his 24th save in a row. That matches Jeff Montgomery’s 1993 club record for most consecutive saves.

The Mariners hitters didn’t have much of an idea against Chen (7-5). All they could get off him were a couple harmless singles and Russell Branyan’s solo home run in the fourth.

“He had a little deception, changed his look, dropped his arm down a little bit, really stayed out of the heart of the plate,” Branyan said. “When he did make a mistake it kind of surprised you because he was giving you so many different looks.”

Chen struck out four and didn’t walk a batter in his second longest outing this season. He is now 3-0 with a 2.27 ERA in six career starts against Seattle.

“It makes me feel comfortable that hitters don’t know (his arm angle),” Chen said.

Royals manager Ned Yost said, “Bruce did a phenomenal job tonight. That’s about as good as a man can pitch, the way Bruce pitched tonight. He went twice to three-ball counts in seven innings. Just a tremendous job.

“He was ahead in the count, he change speeds, he used his breaking ball, he kept the ball down. That’s what he’s very capable of doing.”

Of the 24 batters Chen faced, he threw first-pitch strikes to 18 of them.

“Anytime you can get ahead in the count it’s a lot easier to pitch,” he said. “You can throw your off-speed pitches.”

The Royals scored their runs in the second off David Pauley (0-4). Mitch Maier and Mike Aviles reached on one-out singles. Chris Getz sent Maier home with a single to center and Aviles scored on Gregor Blanco’s fielder’s choice.

Pauley went 5 1-3 innings, allowing five hits and two runs. He walked three and struck out four.

“That kid (Pauley) broke out a change-up after the second inning that was really tough to hit,” Yost said. “It looked like a fastball out of his hand but it was an 82-mph change with fade. He was tough after the second inning.”

Branyan made it a one-run game with a first-pitch home run off Chen in the fourth, his 14th, to deep center field.

“We are all professionals here and we’ve got to do a better job with guys like that,” Branyan said. “He wasn’t overpowering. He did what he needed to do. He executed his game plan.”

The Royals rallied in the sixth as Alex Gordon singled with one out and Maier reached on an error. Sean White replaced Pauley. Aviles followed with a line drive with a promise of a two-run double but third baseman Jose Lopez leaped to bring down. He then tossed to second to double up Gordon, ending the threat.

In the eighth, Billy Butler opened with a double. But on a right-side grounder by Kila Ka’aihue, second baseman Chone Figgins went to third with his throw. Butler was tagged out on the slide.

Figgins stirred up the fans in the ninth with his leadoff single off Soria. But Yost was never worried.

“He has the poise, the confidence and stuff to pitch around it,” Yost said. “He showed it again tonight.”

NOTES: LHP Erik Bedard had bone spurs removed from his left shoulder Friday. It was his third surgery on the shoulder. “It’s good to get it over with. I mean, they found what it was and it’s going to be an easy rehab compared to last year,” Bedard said. “I’m going to have a normal throwing off-season, so I’ll be ready by spring. Easy.” The club has an option for next season but likely won’t exercise it. Renegotiating a new deal is still possible. Royals SS Yuniesky Betancourt became the father of a girl Saturday. … RHP Kyle Davies will take RHP Brian Bannister’s start Sunday. Bannister has been moved to the bullpen for at least a week to sort out his delivery.

Updated August 7, 2010