Kansas City, Mo. Greg Holland faced a thorny situation in the ninth inning.
A leadoff single by Nick Markakis and a run-scoring triple by Adam Jones had the tying run at third with nobody out.
Holland, however, wiggled out of that jam to close out the Kansas City Royals’ 3-2 victory Tuesday night, snapping the Baltimore Orioles’ season-best, five-game winning streak.
“They have a runner at third base and nobody out and I was completely comfortable,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “Holly did a phenomenal job in the ninth inning. He showed why he’s an All-Star closer. I knew he had the stuff to get it done.”
Yost was probably more relaxed than Holland was with Chris Davis, J.J. Hardy and Henry Urrutia coming to the plate.
“Comfortable as you can be with the tying run on third base and nobody out,” Holland said. “I just stayed focused. You’re not going to it done all the time there.”
Davis, who leads the majors with 37 home runs and 97 RBIs, chased a pitch in the dirt to strike out. Holland retired Hardy and Urrutia on grounders to log his 25th save in 27 chances.
“We had some opportunities at the end, but their closer is having a great year,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “When you have a chance against him you have to take advantage.”
Bruce Chen (4-0), who was making just his second start after replacing Luis Mendoza in the rotation, limited the Orioles to three hits and one run, retiring the final 10 batters he faced. The Orioles had bashed 45 hits in their previous three games before Chen and three Kansas City relievers shut them down.
Chen, the Royals’ 2012 opening day starter, was relegated to the bullpen to start the season after Mendoza earned the final rotation spot in spring training. In two starts, Chen has yielded one run and four hits in 12 innings.
“He keeps you off-balance and never gives in,” Jones said. “It’s a true testament to how he’s maintained all these years in the majors. He’s not tricking you, but he’s making his pitches. I was standing out in centerfield wondering how, how we only have three hits. He makes his pitches and you’ve got to respect that.”
Manny Machado homered with two outs in the third for the only run Chen permitted.
The Royals went 2 for 15 with runners in scoring position, stranding 12 runners, including nine at second and third base.
“We had numerous opportunities to break that game open,” Yost said.
They loaded the bases with none out in the first, but scored only one run when Billy Butler grounded into a double play.
In the second, Chris Getz’s one-out single scored David Lough.
Mike Moutakas’ double into the right-field corner in the third scored Lorenzo Cain, who singled to lead off the inning. The Royals had runners at second and third with none out, but failed to pad their lead.
Jason Hammel (7-7) took the loss, giving up 10 hits in six innings for the second straight start. After starting the season 7-2, Hammel is 0-5 with a 5.47 ERA in eight starts since his last victory on May 27 at Washington.
“He ain’t giving in,” Showalter said. “He just kept battling. He knows what he needs to do to help this club.
“We were fortunate. They hit some balls hard at people and we made some plays. Jason kept battling. It was a professional outing. We’ll take the finished product.”
Notes: The Orioles obtained RHP Francisco Rodriguez from Milwaukee for minor league INF Nick Delmonico. Rodriguez is 1-1 with a 1.09 ERA and 10 saves with the Brewers and has 304 career saves. . Yost said RHP Wade Davis would remain in the rotation, but “he needs to get going and be productive.” Davis has one win in his past 11 starts and is 0-4 with a 10.91 ERA in his past four starts. ... Orioles OF Nolan Reimold underwent season-ending spinal surgery in Clearwater, Fla. Reimold also had back surgery in June 2012. ... Getz started after missing the previous two games with a mild left knee sprain.