Closing Time: Bruce Chen, Royals get better of Jon Lester, Red Sox

Rob Bradford
August 08, 2013 - 6:49 pm

KANSAS CITY -- Bruce Chen continues to stick himself in the middle of Red Sox lore. The lefty was first introduced to the Sox in 2003, when he pitched in five games for Boston. (The Red Sox would be one of 10 big league teams Chen has played for.) Then, on the last day of the 2011 debacle, the Sox and Royals discussed a deal that would have secured the starter's services for what could have potentially been a one-game playoff against Tampa Bay. And then there was Thursday night at Kauffman Stadium. The 36-year-old baffled Red Sox hitters all night long, ultimately leading the red-hot Royals to a 5-1 win over the visitors. The win moves Kansas City to 16-4 since July 19, while dropping the Sox' lead over Tampa Bay to two games in the race for first-place in the American League East. The Kansas City starter held the Sox scoreless through 7 2/3 innings, giving up just five hits while striking out two and walking one. The Red Sox managed just one runner to get into scoring position against Chen. Chen has now won all five of his starts this season. He had come into the game having totaled a career 5.59 ERA against the Red Sox, including a 6.11 ERA in 11 starts. The Red Sox' lefty starter, Jon Lester, turned in a solid outing after initially struggling through a three-run first inning. Lester finished tossing seven innings, allowing three runs (one earned) on four hits, striking out four and walking two. He has now allowed three runs or less in four of his last five starts. Here is what went wrong (and right) for the Red Sox, who are now 22-17 in series openers: WHAT WENT WRONG - Jonny Gomes, who had played so well in left field for the majority of the season, made a costly miscue in the Royals' three-run first inning. While apparently gearing up to catch Alex Gordon's fly ball and attempt to throw up a tagging Lorenzo Cain, Gomes misjudged the pop-up, resulting in the ball dropping and the Royals scoring without an out. - The Sox almost got out of the first with just the one Royals' run, with Lester getting the second out with a pair of runners on. But the lefty walked Justin Maxwell on four straight pitches before offering up a two-run single to Mike Moustakas. - Besides Gomes, the Red Sox suffered through a couple of other defensive lapses. Playing first base, Daniel Nava (having just returned from paternity leave) failed to cleanly handle Eric Hosmer's slow roller in the fifth inning. And in the seventh, Stephen Drew couldn't come up with a backhand play on Alcides Escobar's grounder. It marked the fourth time this season the Sox have finished with three errors. The Drew miscue was his fourth error this year, having entered the game with an American League-best fielding percentage of .991. - Billy Butler deposited Rubby De La Rosa's first pitch of the game over the center field fence for a solo homer in the eighth inning. Two batters later, De La Rosa gave up another solo shot, this time to Maxwell. WHAT WENT RIGHT - Jacoby Ellsbury came away with another two-hit game. The outfielder passed David Ortiz for most hits by any Red Sox hitter (75) since June 1. - Stephen Drew stayed hot, knocking out a pair of hits, including the Red Sox' only RBI (plating Gomes with a single in the ninth).