After three innings of starting pitching giving up little excitement besides a Brandon Wood vault to catch a line drive at third base, it was evident that fans at the Big A were in for another duel of starting pitchers on Saturday night.  Starters Ervin Santana and Bruce Chen brought their stuff to shine as bright as the Fourth of July white on each team’s caps for the holiday weekend.

The first three innings of the game passed in less than 50 minutes as batters were retired almost in order.  The only hit to that point was the leadoff for Kansas City.  Santana walked one in the top of the fourth before re-asserting his control over the game by sitting down Wilson Betemit on strikes, putting down 10 of the previous 11 batters.

Bruce Chen had also sat down the first nine of 10 Angel batters when he entered the bottom the fourth inning.  Groundouts from Erick Aybar and Howie Kendrick, brought up Bobby Abreu, who flew out to David DeJesus. DeJesus robbed Abreu by diving on the warning track to grab the flyout, his second diving catch of the game at center field.

Second baseman Howie Kendrick made two consecutive catches for outs in the top of the fifth inning.  Yuniesky Betancourt grounded out to Brandon Wood to end the top of the fifth inning less than an hour after first pitch.

Even a 1-4-3 groundout off the pitcher Chen’s foot bounced into favor of the starter as the Royals defense stood toe to toe with their counterparts.  Napoli and Matsui were easy outs to follow as Chen put the first 15 Angels down in order in the bottom of the fifth.

A Jason Kendall sacrifice bunt moved Podsednik to second base in the top of the sixth inning.  DeJesus lined out to center for the second out, bringing up Butler, who stood in for 10 pitches before taking a walk for the second time.  Guillen stepped in with two runners on and it was Reggie Willits taking his turn at a diving catch to end the inning.

Chen’s first strikeout sat down leadoff man Jeff Mathis in the bottom of the sixth. Chen then  popped out Brandon Wood and grounded out Willits to continue his perfection through 18 at bats without breaking 90 miles per hour. 

Scott Podsednik failed to get his third hit in the top of the seventh as the Royals sat down in order, continuing seven shutout innings for Ervin Santana.

In the bottom of the seventh, Aybar drilled the first Angel hit for a single between second and third. Howie Kendrick dropped a sacrifice bunt, bringing up Bobby Abreu, who struck out on an 85 mph fastball with Aybar on second.  With two outs, Torii Hunter was intentionally walked, and Mike Napoli popped out to end the first threat to Chen’s shutout.

Kendall’s two-out hit in the top of the eighth was followed by a DeJesus single and hit batter Butler for the Royals to load the bases for the hitless Jose Guillen, who drove in two runners.

The shutout for Chen was ended by Jeff Mathis’s second home run of the season, making it 2-1 Kansas City. The Royals brought in reliever Kyle Farnsworth, who struck out Brandon Wood. Reggie Willits then grounded out for the second time.

Heading into the ninth with the score from the previous game, 2-1 in favor of Kansas City, the Royals looked to add insurance runs. A bunt followed by a bloop hit for Betancourt put two runners with one out on before Santana was lifted for Francisco Rodriguez, who walked the bases loaded.  A force out at second brought in a third run for Kansas City.  Betancourt then scored on a wild pitch to make it 4-1 Royals before the end of the inning.

The Angels took the bat down three runs with three outs remaining to keep pace with their rivals in Texas, who had beaten the White Sox.  Joakim Soria had converted his previous 12 save opportunities with an overall 2.35 ERA. 

Aybar led off with an infield hit, his second of the game.  A botched bunt by Kendrick made the first out as Abreu stepped in with a base hit, making Torii Hunter the tying run at the plate.  Hunter walked to load the bases with one out.  Napoli popped a sacrifice fly ball to foul territory making it a 4-2 Royals lead.  Matsui followed with runners on second and third with two outs but he struck out to end the game.

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