HOUSTON – Bruce Chen pitched into the sixth inning on three days' rest and the Kansas City Royals beat the Houston Astros 2-1 on Wednesday.
Alex Gordon tripled and scored for the Royals, who won the last two games of the three-game set. Thirteen of Kansas City's last 14 games have been decided by two or fewer runs.
Chen (6-6) struck out six in 5 2-3 innings and was charged with one run and five hits. Pitching on three days' rest for the sixth time in his career, Chen bounced back from his last outing when he yielded six runs and seven hits in just 1 2-3 innings against St. Louis, but still received a no-decision in the Royals' 10-7 loss.
Houston starter Jordan Lyles (1-4) gave up two runs and three hits in seven innings. The Astros had eight hits, compared to just four for Kansas City, but they went 1 for 12 with runners in scoring position.
Houston put runners on the corners with one out in the ninth, but Jonathan Broxton struck out Brian Bixler and retired Jordan Schafer to earn his 18th save in 21 chances.
The Royals grabbed a 1-0 lead in the fifth. Mike Moustakas hit a leadoff double, moved up on Alcides Escobar's grounder and scored on Brayan Pena's infield out.
Gordon tripled with one out in the sixth and scored when Yuniesky Betancourt reached on an error by shortstop Jed Lowrie. Billy Butler then bounced into a double play to end the inning.
Houston got on the board in the bottom half, but lost out on a chance for a bigger rally.
Schafer and Carlos Lee opened the inning with consecutive walks, and Schafer moved to third when J.D. Martinez grounded into a double play. Lowrie drove in Schafer with an infield hit and Chris Johnson chased Chen with a single to left, but Kelvin Herrera struck out Chris Snyder to end the inning.
The Astros also had a chance to take the lead in the eighth. Lee hit a one-out single into right field, barely beating Jeff Francoeur's throw to first. Martinez then walked before Greg Holland struck out Lowrie and Johnson to end the inning.
Chen got into a jam in the fourth when Martinez doubled with one out and Lowrie was hit by a pitch. But he struck out Johnson and Snyder to end the threat.
Lyles got off to a great start, retiring 12 of his first 13 batters, including the first six.
NOTES: The Royals recalled INF Irving Falu from Triple-A Omaha and optioned reliever Louis Coleman to their top farm club. ... Houston pitcher Bud Norris, on the DL with a sprained knee, threw a light side session and is expected to start for Triple-A Oklahoma on Saturday. ... Houston manager Brad Mills said OF Fernando Martinez, on the DL for concussion-like symptoms, could begin a rehabilitation assignment in the next couple of days. ... Houston CF Justin Maxwell left with a sprained left ankle. ... Both teams are off on Thursday before Houston hosts the Indians and Kansas City plays the Cardinals.