KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Royals’ bullpen has been so dominant the past couple years that it had been 126 games since the reigning American League champions lost when leading after the eighth inning.
Their streak ended in frustrating fashion Thursday night.
The Angels scored a pair of runs in the eighth, then C.J. Cron and Kole Calhoun each drove in a pair off closer Greg Holland in the ninth, sending Los Angeles to a 7-6 victory over Kansas City and ending its seven-game skid against the AL Central leaders.
"When you’re leading in the ninth inning," Holland said, "you should win the game."
Kansas City built a 5-1 advantage heading to the eighth, but All-Star reliever Wade Davis coughed up two runs in his first appearance since Aug. 6, when a stiff back put him on the shelf.
"Early in the inning, maybe a little too tentative to the first two hitters," he said, "and unfortunately, both of them scored and let them back in the game."
Then, Holland (3-1) entered in the ninth and gave up a leadoff single and a walk and threw a wild pitch. Cron followed with a pinch-hit double to tie the game, and after Johnny Giavotella singled, Calhoun added his go-ahead double into the right-field corner.
Holland then walked Mike Trout before he was finally pulled. The former All-Star closer allowed four runs and four hits and a pair of walks without retiring a batter.
"I’ve been closing and in the bullpen long enough to know you’ve got to take the bad from the good and the good from the bad. It’s one of those nights, I didn’t get it done," Holland said. "I didn’t execute when I needed to and we lose the game because of it."
Huston Street gave up Eric Hosmer’s solo shot in the ninth before getting Alex Rios to fly out with runners on first and second to end the game. Street earned his 27th save with Albert Pujols — because of pinch hitters and substitutions — forced to play third base for the second time this season and only the 12th time since 2002.
"That was the best we could come up with," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "There were some things we had to do with so many guys out of position.
Jose Alvarez (3-3) tossed 1 2/3 scoreless innings to earn the win.
The Royals’ stunning bullpen meltdown squandered a nice bounce-back start by Jeremy Guthrie, who allowed two runs and three walks over six innings. The veteran had been dinged for at least 10 hits in each of his past three outings, putting his spot in the rotation in question.
Garrett Richards allowed three runs and eight hits and two walks for Los Angeles.
Rios, Lorenzo Cain and Drew Butera drove in runs off Richards early in the game, and Hosmer and Kendrys Morales appeared to put it out of reach when they touched up the Angels’ bullpen.
Then, an offense that had been sputtering came to life.
Trout, Conor Gillaspie and David Murphy also drove in runs for Los Angeles, which had managed four runs total in a three-game sweep by the White Sox to start its road trip.
The victory snapped the Angels’ nine-game losing streak away from home.
"I think it’s definitely a win to build on. That’s one of the best teams in baseball," Street said. "This is a good series for us to show something."
STATS AND STREAKS
The four runs allowed by Holland were the second most in his career. He allowed five in 2 1/3 innings against Cleveland on Aug. 27, 2010. … Gillaspie snapped an 0-for-17 skid with his single in the fourth. … Giavotella has hit safely in 20 of 22 games.
Angels: LHP C.J. Wilson will have season-ending surgery to remove bone spurs. He hopes it allows him to be ready by spring training. … SS Erick Aybar was a late scratch with tightness in his lower back. Taylor Featherston replaced him.
Royals: LF Alex Gordon (strained groin) hopes to begin a rehab assignment soon. He’s been taking regular batting practice and shagged flyballs in the outfield earlier this week.
Angels: RHP Jered Weaver makes his second start since returning from the DL. He allowed two earned runs and four hits in five innings against Baltimore on Sunday.
Royals: LHP Danny Duffy allowed three runs and four hits in 3 1/3 innings before getting yanked from his previous start Sunday against the White Sox.