KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Shin-Soo Choo flared a lazy fly ball down the left-field line with one out in the ninth inning, driving in the only run off Danny Duffy and giving the Texas Rangers a 1-0 victory over the Kansas City Royals on Saturday night.
Duffy and Rangers counterpart Cole Hamels matched each other through seven innings, neither bending before Hamels finally departed for reliever Jose Leclerc (2-2) with two out in the eighth.
Duffy (5-6) began the ninth and gave up a weak single to Jonathan Lucroy. After pinch-runner Joey Gallo took second on a sacrifice bunt by Delino DeShields, Choo got just enough wood on Duffy’s 91st pitch to drop a fly ball in front of left fielder Alex Gordon and score the game’s only run.
Leclerc walked the leadoff man in the ninth, but Alex Claudio struck out Eric Hosmer and got Salvador Perez to ground into a double play to earn his third save and second in as many nights.
Texas won its 12th straight win over Kansas City dating to last July.
Most of the game shook out just as expected: an entertaining duel between talented left-handers.
Hamels rolled in on a 13 1/3-inning scoreless streak and was 3-0 in three starts against the Royals since arriving in Texas. Duffy carried a shutout into the eighth when the teams met in April in Arlington, and he was amped up making his first home start since mid-May.
The Rangers were first to threaten when Mike Napoli led off the second with a triple, but Duffy set down the next three batters. The only other hit he allowed until the eighth was a one-out single by Carlos Gomez in the fifth, and Duffy promptly picked him off first base.
Hamels waded through far more trouble in the third inning.
He started by walking Alcides Escobar, who hadn’t earned a free pass in 115 plate appearances. Hamels then gave up a single to Brandon Moss and a two-out single to Jorge Bonifacio, who was robbed of driving in the game’s first run when shortstop Elvis Andrus leaped up to knock down the ball.
With the bases loaded, Hamels calmly got Lorenzo Cain to ground out and end the inning.
Duffy wound up allowing five hits with four strikeouts and no walks in 8 1/3 innings, while Hamels gave up four hits and a walk with five strikeouts in 7 2/3 innings.
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