Royals manager Ned Yost wants to think about the first five weeks of the season, not the last three.
An early lead started to evaporate when Josh Hamilton homered leading off the seventh inning, and Los Angeles beat Kansas City 5-2 Sunday for its eighth straight win.
Following a 17-10 start, the Royals have lost 16 of 20 – including nine of their last 10. In only three of those 16 losses have the Royals scored more than three runs.
”I’ll remember our good start, and where we’re at now,” Yost said. ”We’ve got to get back to doing a nice job.”
The Royals have dropped from first place on May 1 to fourth place in the AL Central.
”We haven’t played well, and we know it,” designated hitter Billy Butler. ”I’ll stand up and say we’re not playing the way we can. It’s frustrating. A lot of guys in here are frustrated. That doesn’t change our goals. They’re the same as they were in spring training.”
Butler was ejected in the sixth inning by plate umpire Marty Foster for arguing a called third strike. Jeff Francoeur, who is hitting .219, replaced Butler as the DH and stranded four runners with flyouts in the seventh and ninth innings.
”There were scoring opportunities in both at-bats,” Yost said. ”Being a professional, Billy can’t allow that to happen, but being human, it does happen.”
The Angels were unable to get into their dugout until about 90 minutes before the game because bees swarmed into it. A beekeeper was summoned to solve the problem.
Jerome Williams (4-1) then allowed two runs and seven hits in six innings for the Angels, on their longest winning streak since taking eight straight from May 22-29 last year. When they play at the Freeway Series rival Dodgers on Monday, they can stretch a winning streak to nine for the first time since August 2004.
Los Angeles trailed 2-0 before Hamilton homered on the first pitch of the seventh from Wade Davis (3-4), giving the former AL MVP home runs in consecutive games for only the third time since signing with the Angels during the offseason. Hamilton has five RBIs in his past five games after driving in five in his previous 39.
Davis walked two of his next three batters, Bruce Chen relieved, and J.B. Shuck and Erick Aybar hit consecutive RBI singles for a 3-2 lead.
Luke Hochevar walked Mark Trumbo and hit Howie Kendrick with a pitch in the eighth, and Shuck and Chris Iannetta hit consecutive run-scoring singles against Aaron Crow.
Ernesto Frieri pitched an eventful ninth for his 10th save in 11 chances, getting in trouble when he walked Chris Getz and gave up Alcides Escobar’s third hit of the game. Alex Gordon struck out, Jeff Francoeur flied out in a 12-pitch at-bat and Eric Hosmer grounded out, ending the 28-pitch innings.
”Francoeur had a great at-bat,” Yost said. ”We were hoping he might get ahold of one.”
Davis did not allow a runner past second in the first six innings.
”We got into trouble in the seventh,” Davis said. ”The walks put us in a bad spot. The biggest goal is to keep it at zero. With the way we’ve been playing, we needed a win.”
Kansas City built its lead on David Lough’s two-out RBI triple in the second and a run-scoring throwing error by Williams on a pickoff attempt at first with runners at the corners in the fifth. George Kottaras drew his 10th walk in his 35th plate appearance and swiped second for his first steal since June 22, 2010.
NOTES: LHP Danny Duffy, who had elbow ligament-replacement surgery last June, threw three scoreless innings Sunday for the Royals’ Double-A Northwest Arkansas team to begin his minor-league injury rehab assignment. Duffy allowed two hits, walked two, struck out four, had a wild pitch, a balk and hit a batter at San Antonio. He threw 37 of 63 pitches for strikes. … RHP James Shields, who starts for the Royals on Monday against St. Louis, is 0-3 in four May starts. The Royals have scored a total of five runs in those four starts. … Angels manager Mike Scioscia, who was ejected by Foster in the ninth, said RHP Jered Weaver, who threw a bullpen session Sunday, will start Wednesday against the Dodgers. Weaver went on the DL on April 8 with a broken left arm. … RHP Billy Buckner was designated for assignment, a day after he threw five scoreless innings to beat the Royals for his first major league victory since 2009. … Angels RHP Kevin Jepsen was activated from the DL.