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KC@LAA: Chen blanks the Angels over six innings

ANAHEIM -- Albert Pujols? No problem. But Jered Weaver and the rest of the Los Angeles Angels were another story.

Bruce Chen pitched brilliantly for the Royals, but so did Weaver, and he and the Angels, with a five-run eighth inning, brushed off the Royals, 5-0, in Friday night's opener to reward a sellout crowd of 44,106 at Angel Stadium.

"Oh, wow, man, Bruce really pitched a heck of a game," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "I was proud of Bruce to come out and give us six strong innings like he did."

While Pujols, the Kansas City kid turned Major League monster, went 0-for-3 with an intentional walk, his teammates turned tiger against the Royals' bullpen.

It was a scoreless game when Aaron Crow relieved Chen after six innings and 75 pitches. Crow arrived with pitches perking -- he struck out Howie Kendrick, Pujols and Torii Hunter in a rapid-order seventh.

"That first inning couldn't have gone better, and the second inning the pitches started getting too much of the plate," Crow said. "I started with that 0-2 pitch to [Kendrys] Morales. I should've gone with a fastball instead of the slider, and it just kind of opened the floodgates."

Morales grounded a one-out single to right, Mark Trumbo lined a single to center and Chris Iannetta drilled a single to left -- boom, boom, boom, the bases were loaded. Yost summoned Greg Holland from the bullpen to face fleet Peter Bourjos.

"We were playing the infield in short because we know we can't turn two on him, he's just too fast," Yost said. "We make the play there, get the out at the plate and it changes the inning a little bit."

But when Bourjos hit a chopper to the left side, third baseman Mike Moustakas cut in front of shortstop Alcides Escobar, momentarily blocking his view of the ball. It rolled out of Escobar's glove, the first run was in and Bourjos had an RBI single.

Yost said Moustakas should have peeled off and let Escobar take the play.

"In that situation, I probably should have let that ball go and let Esky take it," Moustakas said, "but, as a third baseman, your first instinct is to go after the ball, and I've got to be a little wiser next time in that situation."

"It would've been close," Escobar said. "I lost the ball for one second, and if I'd have got the ball, I'd have gone to home plate."

The bases were still loaded, and Erick Aybar caught a Holland pitch and lashed it down the right-field line, a triple that broke open the game. Holland ended the inning, purposely passing Pujols in the process, but not before Hunter looped a single for the fifth run.

"My job is to keep us in the game," Weaver said. "It was pretty fun to watch that eighth inning."

Chen, who was making his first Opening Day start, defended his bullpen buddies.

"This is what we wanted," Chen said. "We have one of the best bullpens in the league, and we need to use them. Crow's an All-Star, and Holland did a really good job [last year]. You know what, the next time I'm pitching, I want those two guys again because they're a big part of this team."

Chen, by the way, had no trouble with Pujols. In his first at-bat for the Angels, following Kendrick's rocket double off the center-field wall, Pujols lined out to Escobar, who threw to second and doubled off Kendrick. In the fourth inning, Pujols fouled out to Moustakas.

"I kept looking at my bat. I was putting good barrels on it, and that's the way it goes," Pujols said. "You try to put a good swing every at-bat, every pitch. You want to come through, but sometimes you don't. That's the way it goes. It's part of the game. It won't be the first time this year that I go 0-for-3, either."

Weaver, in his eight shutout innings, struck out 10. Left-hander Scott Downs took over and worked a perfect ninth.

The Royals threatened Weaver when Brayan Pena and Escobar began the third inning with singles. But they could only watch in dismay as Weaver struck out in succession Alex Gordon, Lorenzo Cain and Eric Hosmer. He fanned Gordon and Cain three times each.

The Royals didn't get a third hit until Jeff Francoeur rifled a double down the left-field line with one out in the seventh. But, with a 3-0 count on Betancourt, Weaver picked off Francoeur with a toss to Kendrick at second. Unfortunate for the Royals, because third baseman Trumbo missed an easy pop foul by Betancourt, who promptly singled before Weaver ended the inning.

Another opportunity was missed.

"Bruce pitched really well, and we just didn't give him what we needed to give him," Moustakas said. Comments