Angels-Royals Preview

After timely hitting and strong starting pitching keyed a season-best winning streak, the Los Angeles Angels didn’t get enough of either in their opener against the Kansas City Royals.

They could have some trouble getting back on track as they attempt to even the series Saturday.

With Hector Santiago seeking his first victory since August, the Angels go for their seventh win in eight games in a matchup with hard-throwing Yordano Ventura.

Los Angeles (44-34) averaged 5.8 runs and batted .340 with runners in scoring position while the rotation posted a 2.63 ERA during a six-game winning streak, which they carried into this matchup with the Royals (41-38).

The Angels couldn’t continue their roll Friday, going 2 for 8 with runners in scoring position while starter Matt Shoemaker allowed eight runs over four innings of an 8-6 loss.

C.J. Cron recorded his first career two-homer game and has gone 9 for 20 with five home runs in his last six. Mike Trout went 2 for 4 with a home run estimated to be near 490 feet and is hitting .391 with 10 homers in his last 30 games.

”It felt good,” said Trout, a career .364 hitter with seven homers in 17 games against Kansas City, ”but it stinks we lost.”

Los Angeles could have a tougher time against Ventura (5-6, 3.20 ERA). The right-hander has gone 3-1 with a 2.67 ERA in four June starts.

Ventura hit 101 mph on the radar gun Sunday but had his three-start winning streak snapped despite giving up two runs over seven innings, suffering a 2-1 home loss to Seattle.

Second among rookie starters in ERA and fifth with 73 strikeouts, Ventura also ranks among the AL leaders with a .208 opponents’ batting average with runners in scoring position.

By contrast, Santiago (0-7, 4.41) has gone 0-9 with a 4.60 ERA in 14 appearances since his last victory Aug. 18. He’s dropped each of his four road starts this season while posting a 5.49 ERA.

However, the left-hander has pitched well in three career starts against Kansas City, going 1-0 with a 1.45 ERA with the Chicago White Sox. In his only start at Kauffman Stadium, he surrendered one run and three hits over eight innings of a 9-1 victory June 21, 2013.

Salvador Perez, Billy Butler, Alex Gordon and Mike Moustakas are a combined 3 for 31 against Santiago. Perez and Lorenzo Cain had three hits Friday, while Omar Infante hit his first career grand slam in the Royals’ second win in eight games.

Kansas City had totaled 19 runs while batting .176 with runners in scoring position over its previous eight contests before going 5 for 12 in those situations Friday.

The Angels, who rank near the bottom of the majors with 12 blown saves and a 4.38 ERA, made a move to improve the bullpen Friday by picking up Jason Grilli from Pittsburgh in exchange for former closer Ernesto Frieri.

The 37-year-old Grilli has struggled, though, going 0-2 with a 4.87 ERA and 11 saves. The 2013 All-Star is expected to join the Angels on Saturday.