TORONTO (AP) — Brandon Morrow wasn't in the mood to talk about another bad outing.
Morrow lost for the third time in four starts, surrendering home runs to Eric Hosmer and Billy Butler, and the Kansas City Royals beat the Toronto Blue Jays 6-4 on Tuesday night.
Morrow (9-8) declined to speak to reporters after allowing six runs and a season-high 11 hits in 4 2-3 innings. He walked one and struck out five.
"More than anything, he was up in the strike zone," Blue Jays manager John Farrell said. "When Brandon is down, whether a guy knows what's coming or not, he typically has success with the power and the assortment of pitches that he has. I thought more than anything it was a matter of elevation in the strike zone."
Butler said the Royals were fortunate to get Morrow when the right-hander wasn't at his best.
"I've definitely seen him light the radar gun up for eight or nine innings at 95 plus and have a really sharp slider," Butler said. "That's guy's got great stuff.
"Today it looked like he didn't have good command of his off-speed stuff," Butler added. "His fastball was a little up and just hitting too much of the plate."
While Morrow struggled with his command, Royals starter Bruce Chen had no such troubles, matching a career-high with nine strikeouts to win four consecutive starts for the first time in his career.
"I was throwing strikes, I was using all my pitches," Chen said. "I had really good command of my curveball, my cutter and my change-up. Today is one of those days where everything was working in and out and I was changing speeds very well."
Chen (9-5) allowed three runs and four hits in 7 2-3 innings and improved to 4-1 with a 3.68 ERA in five August starts. He's 18-9 in 61 career August games, his most wins in any month.
"Everything was firing on all cylinders for him," infielder Mike Moustakos said. "When (manager Ned Yost) came out there and took him out he said it's the best he's seen Bruce pitch in a while. He was dominant for us tonight."
It had been more than a decade since Chen's last nine-strikeout game, June 13, 2001, at Tampa Bay. Of his 92 pitches, 67 were strikes.
"He kept us on our feet and kept them on their heels," Moustakos said.
Jeff Francoeur matched his career high with four hits and the Royals, who had lost six of their previous seven away from home, pounded out 16 hits to open a 10-game, 10-day road trip on a winning note.
"Our attack was well-balanced," Yost said. "We drove the gaps, we did a nice job in our situational hitting and got big hits when we needed to."
Chen was perfect through three innings before Blue Jays shortstop Yunel Escobar singled to open the fourth, snapping an 0-for-17 slump.
"Chen did a very good job of keeping us out on our front foot, disrupting our timing," Farrell said.
Greg Holland replaced Chen after Mike McCoy drew a two-out walk in the eighth. McCoy stole second but Holland got Escobar to ground out.
Joakim Soria gave up an RBI single to Adam Lind in the ninth but finished for his 23rd save in 30 opportunities.
Kansas City came in having lost seven of nine overall and 21 of its previous 28 in Toronto but jumped on Morrow with a three-run, four-hit second.
Hosmer led off with a homer to center, his 11th and first since July 27 at Boston. Francoeur doubled and Johnny Giavotella followed with an RBI single to center, advancing to second on Colby Rasmus' fielding error. Salvador Perez capped the rally with an RBI single.
The Royals chased Morrow in the fifth, scoring three more runs. Butler hit a one-out homer to left, his 16th, Hosmer singled, stole second and scored on Giavotella's double and Perez ended Morrow's night with an RBI triple to right.
"They do a good job of handling the fastball," Farrell said of Kansas City. "It's a young athletic team that's got some bat speed."
Escobar had the only big hit of the night against Chen, a three-run homer to center in the sixth, his 11th.
"That's about the only (mistake) he made," Yost said.
NOTES: Toronto traded 2B Aaron Hill and INF John McDonald to Arizona for 2B Kelly Johnson. The Blue Jays also recalled C Brian Jeroloman from Triple-A Las Vegas. ... Blue Jays RHP Frank Francisco, who missed Sunday's game at Oakland with a sore right shoulder, threw before the game and was available. ... Lind, who left Saturday's game at Oakland after being hit on the right wrist by a pitch, went 1 for 4 in his return to the lineup. ... Royals leadoff batter Alex Gordon struck out four times in five at bats. ... Francouer recorded his ninth career four-hit game. ... The game was delayed when two fans ran onto the field in the bottom of the seventh.