ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) Jeremy Guthrie’s 18-game unbeaten streak ended with a powerful display from the middle of the Los Angeles Angels’ previously underachieving lineup.
The Kansas City Royals right-hander gave up solo home runs to Albert Pujols, Howie Kendrick, Josh Hamilton and Mike Trout in a 6-2 loss Tuesday night. It was Guthrie’s first defeat since Aug. 3 last year, when the Texas Rangers beat him 5-3 at Kansas City.
“The streak was because of 25 guys that played well behind me every time I was on the mound, and they really picked me up. That’s how a streak like that happens,” Guthrie said. “Tonight they tried to battle for me, and I couldn’t get any momentum on our side. It was one of those nights where I didn’t have a good feel and wasn’t able to execute pitches.”
Guthrie (5-1) yielded five runs and 11 hits over seven innings. He held the franchise record for consecutive starts without a loss while winning his previous 10 decisions.
“It just shows you how fragile a streak like that is and how impressive it is,” said Royals designated hitter Billy Butler, who homered and drove in both runs against Jason Vargas. “Jeremy’s going to pitch well all year, and he’s pitched well to this point. We all have confidence in him, and we know when he goes out there we have a great chance to win every time.”
Butler, who had five hits and five RBIs in a series-opening win Monday, opened the scoring with an RBI double in the fourth. But the Angels responded with two runs in the bottom half, as Pujols launched his sixth homer over the double-decker bullpen in left field leading off the inning and Kendrick hit his sixth of the season with two outs.
Hamilton, who batted .212 with 11 RBIs in his first 38 games with the Angels after signing a five-year, $125 million contract in December, drove Guthrie’s first pitch to him in the sixth far beyond the trees in center field with two outs to increase the lead to 4-2.
Trout ended the barrage in the seventh with his seventh of the season, a towering drive over both bullpens. It was the first time in Guthrie’s 10-year career that he allowed four homers in a game.
“The pitch to Pujols was a 2-0 fastball. I tried to run it hard-in and it didn’t really have too much action to it,” Guthrie said. “Kendrick was an 0-1 changeup I tried to throw low and away and left it up. With Hamilton, I was trying to go low and away and left it low-middle and he golfed it out. Then I tried to go hard-in to Trout, but it was in and off the plate and he did a nice job to barrel it up.”
Guthrie became the first pitcher to give up four homers against the Angels since Aug. 8, 2012, when Kendrys Morales hit two, and Chris Iannetta and Torii Hunter one each against Oakland’s Dan Straily in his second big league start.
“As you saw tonight, up and down the lineup, we’re capable of doing that,” Hamilton said. “When you look at what he’s been doing as of late, he’s been throwing the ball well. So it’s encouraging to know you’ve had good at-bats against a guy like that. It’s just good to create a little bit of fuel to the fire. The guys were smiling and having fun.”
The Angels’ right fielder, the AL MVP in 2010, made his fourth start at designated hitter after being removed from Monday night’s 11-4 loss in the seventh inning because of lightheadedness caused by sinus congestion.
Vargas (2-3) gave up five hits in seven-plus innings and struck out seven.
“He mixes speeds well, locates, and he just knows how to pitch,” Butler said. “Over the years he’s gotten better and better. He knows what he has, knows his stuff and basically knows how to approach hitters. He’s a lefty and he throws in the upper 80s (mph), so you have to make him come to you and bring the ball up. That’s easier said than done.”
Trout made it 3-1 in the fifth with a sacrifice fly after the Angels put runners at the corners on singles by J.B. Shuck and Erick Aybar, who returned to the lineup after missing four games because of tightness in his right hamstring.
NOTES: Los Angeles got two runners thrown out at third base by catcher Salvador Perez in the third. … Hamilton is 8 for 25 against Guthrie with three home runs. … Kansas City has gotten only one other home run from the cleanup spot through the first 36 games – by Butler on Saturday against the Yankees – and five from the leadoff spot. All of those were by Alex Gordon, who was shifted to the No. 3 hole six games ago and has gone deep once since then.