Kansas City had no success against right-hander Josh Beckett and absorbed its third consecutive loss to Boston, 6-0, on Sunday in front of a sellout crowd of 37,612 at Fenway Park. The Royals take a 37-51 record into the All-Star break, fourth in the American League Central and 11 1/2 games behind the division-leading Tigers.
Beckett pitched a three-hitter to boost his record to 11-3 this season and to 100-65, including 4-0 vs. Kansas City, in his career. This was his second complete-game shutout this year.
"He was outstanding -- not a lot we could do with him today, to be honest with you," Royals manager Trey Hillman said.
Beckett walked none, struck out seven, made just 94 pitches and generally just had a fine old time at Kansas City's expense.
"We played good defense, which can cover up mistakes," Beckett said. "Hard-hit balls at guys -- they have a pretty aggressive approach. It was a lot of pitching and contact, especially in the middle of the game."
The Royals couldn't muster a baserunner against Beckett (11-3) until David DeJesus opened the fourth inning by ripping a double down the right-field line. Mitch Maier bunted him to third base, but that didn't lead to any runs.
"Billy [Butler] got anxious with David at third and less than two out," Hillman said. "[Manager Terry Francona] brought the infield in, which I thought was a great move to hold the lead that they had and keep the momentum."
Butler rolled out to second, and Teahen grounded out to end the inning.
Nor did a bases-loaded chance with one out in the seventh produce anything. Maier and Teahen each singled, and Jose Guillen was hit by a pitch. But Brayan Pena grounded into a double play, and that was that.
Beckett was invincible.
"It looked like he had his good stuff, hitting both sides of the plate and getting ahead of everybody," Teahen said. "Obviously his pitch count stayed low, and he was getting ahead of everybody. And we didn't do much."
Left-hander Bruce Chen's quest for a game that would solidify his No. 5 spot in the rotation went for naught. He was chased in the fourth inning after giving up three runs on six hits and three walks.
"That's a tough lineup, and I'm trying to make good pitches but not giving them anything to hit. But they have a good eye," Chen said.
Chen, for the first time in four starts, did not allow a home run, and Hillman made sure that wouldn't happen, giving him an early hook.
"Lot of balls in the air, and it's too dangerous to leave him in and have any chance at all, with balls getting in the air off him," Hillman said. "Not enough swings and misses to stick with him any longer, and the pitch count got up there in a hurry anyhow."
Chen used up 78 pitches in just three-plus innings and only 46 were for strikes.
With Chen 0-4 and his ERA at 7.20, the Royals are likely to consider bringing in either Sidney Ponson or Kyle Davies from Triple-A Omaha when the schedule resumes after four days off.
"Sidney had a good night again yesterday. He's an option, and Davies is an option," Hillman said. "In spots, I still like what Bruce has the ability to do -- change speeds and he's got a breaking ball I like, but too many balls in the air up to this point."
Robinson Tejeda also had control problems, issuing three walks after relieving Chen. The Royals passed out nine bases on balls. Three each went to Jason Bay (who was also hit by pitches twice) and Nick Green. Red Sox rookie Aaron Bates had three hits, including two doubles.
"Obviously, we struggled the last couple of days throwing strikes. A couple yesterday were intentional, but no intent with the bases on balls today," Hillman said. "We had as many walks in the last two days as we've had in the last two weeks."
That was an exaggeration, but the two-game total of 18 certainly was excessive.
Even closer Joakim Soria, brought in to get needed work in the eighth but with no victory on the line, was a little careless. He nicked Bay with a pitch, gave up two doubles and one run before ending the inning.
Yep, for the Royals, it's a good time for a break.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less