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LAA@KC: Chen whiffs eight over five innings of relief

KANSAS CITY -- Manager Ned Yost had a one-word description for the Royals' Saturday.

"Long," he said, solemnly and almost tonelessly.

It seemed even longer after his Royals absorbed a 6-2 loss to the Angels following a rain delay of nearly four hours at Kauffman Stadium. The game began promptly at 1:10 p.m. CT and ended at a very tardy 8:03 p.m.

The loss was the seventh in the Royals' last nine games, following a 10-game winning streak. They are 4 1/2 games behind Detroit in the American League Central.

A steady rain, embellished by lightning flashes, caused a 3-hour, 58-minute delay after the first four innings and, by then, the Royals were behind, 2-0.

Since the Royals were already in the hole, Yost was asked if he'd have preferred a rainout.

"No, we didn't want it called," he said. "We had leeway. A doubleheader [Sunday] just really messes up the pitching. We had Bruce [Chen] and our 'pen in pretty good shape, and we didn't want it called, we wanted to wait it out."

Play resumed with the start of the fifth inning and only a scattering of the original 21,093 fans remained.

Chen, who was just back after two months on the disabled list, took over the mound from the Royals' rookie starter Yordano Ventura. Chen whizzed through the fifth inning, but he was tagged for four runs in the sixth and the Angels were in command, 6-0.

"It's tough, but that's the job that the long guy has to do," Chen said. "You never know when you're going to be called upon, and you never know how long it's going to be."

Chen grinded out five innings to finish the game and preserve his bullpen mates for the series and homestand finale on Sunday. He gave up five hits, two walks and racked up eight strikeouts, most he's ever had in a relief role.

"He had four good innings, one rough one," Yost said.

The big blow of the Angels' four-run sixth was a two-run single by David Freese. He finished with three hits and three RBIs. Leadoff man Kole Calhoun also contributed three hits and scored twice.

"It was nice to come out and get some runs after the rain delay," Freese said. "When you come out there after the rain delay it feels like it doesn't count, but it does obviously. So it's nice to get some runs there."

The Royals got nothing against left-hander Hector Santiago in the pre-delay portion of the game. Oh, they did get one hit in each of the four innings, but not a runner past second base.

Right-hander Mike Morin, a Kansas City area product, took over the Angels' pitching chores in the fifth. He was tagged for two runs in the sixth. Eric Hosmer led off with a single, Billy Butler walked and the runs scored on Salvador Perez's single and Omar Infante's sacrifice fly.

But that was it.

"You go out that first couple of innings and put some runs up, and it brought some life back," Hosmer said, "but the second half of that game really went pretty quick. It was just a weird day in general."

It certainly was as sunshine and rain alternated in the first four innings.

All was well as the afternoon got underway, but a sudden downpour struck after the first inning, sending spectators rushing for cover and the grounds crew rolling out the tarpaulin. But the rain stopped as suddenly as it started and only a seven-minute delay ensued.

The Angels scored single runs off Ventura in the third and fourth innings.

By then, rain had come to stay for a while and play was halted at 2:31 p.m. CT, not to resume until 6:29 p.m.

"It's just a waiting game, you basically just hang out," Hosmer said. "The first warning was that it was going to be a couple hours so it wasn't one of those things where we were thinking it was going to start any minute. … It's all part of the grind of the season. I think there was a day last year, we finished at 3 in the morning and ended up that morning in Texas at 8 a.m. That's what we all sign up for."

Hosmer was remembering May 30, 2013, when the game at St. Louis not only started an hour late because of rain but then was delayed in the ninth inning -- for four hours, 32 minutes. The game ended at 3:14 a.m., but it was tolerable because the Royals won, 4-2, ending an eight-game skid.

That and Saturday's game had just one thing in common.

They were long.

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