Kansas City, Mo. Knowing a heavy rainstorm was bearing down on Kansas City, Ned Yost made a few adjustments, such as employing late-game strategy in the third inning.
The Royals manager had Chris Getz lay down a sacrifice, something he almost never does so early, and two batters later, Alex Gordon lashed a two-run double down the right-field line.
Wilson Betemit also drove in two runs and Bruce Chen did the rest, pitching eight strong innings to help the Royals post a 5-1 rain-shortened victory over Seattle on Thursday night at Kauffman Stadium.
“We played the third inning like it was the seventh inning,” Yost said. “The key to that inning was Alex Gordon’s two-run double. That was a great at-bat by Alex. It got us on the board knowing that rain was coming somewhere in the night. We had reports it was going to start at 8, at 8:15 and 8:30, a pretty good downpour. So we tried to get on the board early in case it came in the first four or five innings.”
The game was called after a delay of 47 minutes in the bottom of the eighth.
“We all knew the weather was coming,” Gordon said. “You never know after five innings. You want to get that lead early. We in the dugout all knew that, and once we got ahead, we just cruised and let Chen do his thing.”
Chen (2-0) allowed six hits and walked one in his fourth career complete game and second in his last four starts dating to his final game last year. He improved to 4-0 against the Mariners and has won his last six decisions overall to even his career record at 50-50.
The left-hander had tossed 13 consecutive scoreless innings before Adam Kennedy’s sacrifice fly drove in an unearned run in the eighth.
Gordon’s double was off Doug Fister (0-3), and he scored on Billy Butler’s single for a 3-0 lead. Betemit homered in the fourth and had a sacrifice fly in the sixth in front of a crowd of 8,811 — lower than Kansas City’s smallest attendance at any game in 2010.
“They said it was going to (rain) about 8 to 8:30 and it did,” Seattle manager Eric Wedge said. “We were still able to get deep in the ballgame. We had our opportunities, we just couldn’t take advantage of them.”
In Fister’s three starts this season covering 182⁄3 innings, the Mariners have scored two runs. They have four or fewer runs in 10 of their last 11 games.
“If you throw 100 pitches, there’s always going to be three or four that can cause turmoil in a game,” Fister said. “They capitalized on some of my mistakes. I left a couple of balls too much over the plate that were high.”
Fister yielded eight hits in seven innings, finishing with five strikeouts and a walk.
Seattle’s Ichiro Suzuki singled in the third and fifth, going 2-for-4 to match George Brett’s Kauffman Stadium record of nine consecutive multihit games. He’s hit safely in 15 straight games in Kauffman.
Alcides Escobar and Melky Cabrera singled ahead of Gordon’s double in the third. Cabrera had two hits and has at least one hit in eight of the last nine games.
Betemit connected with one out in the fourth, driving a 1-1 pitch over the wall in left for his first homer. His fly ball to left in the sixth scored Kila Ka’aihue, who reached on a one-out single and went to third on Jeff Francoeur’s base hit.
Chone Figgins doubled in the eighth and went to third when Milton Bradley reached on first baseman Ka’aihue’s error. Kennedy then hit a fly ball to center for Seattle’s only run.
Notes: Mariners CF Frankin Gutierrez will begin a rehab assignment today at Single-A High Desert. He’s been out since March 30 with a stomach ailment. ... Brett had nine straight multihit games in Kauffman Stadium from May 1-28, 1979, when it was still called Royals Stadium.