Billy Butler‘s inadvertent homer helped the Kansas City Royals end a frustrating losing streak against a team they never can seem to beat.
Butler homered twice and had four RBIs, and the Royals ended a nine-game losing streak to the Los Angeles Angels with a 6-3 win on Monday.
Struggling with his timing before last week’s Oakland series, Butler made a few adjustments during the four-game set against the Angels. He got it back in a hurry in the finale, hitting a two-run homer in the fifth inning off Ervin Santana (7-8) and a solo shot off Jose Arredondo in the eighth for his second multihomer game this season.
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The first homer, all 442 feet of it, surprised him.
“I wasn’t trying to hit that,” Butler said. “I’m just trying to put the barrel on the ball and that’s what ended up happening.”
Kansas City played solid defense, had 11 hits and survived a scare from its shaky bullpen to beat Los Angeles for the first time since May 7, 2008. The Royals had lost six straight and 23 of 29 at Kauffman Stadium to Los Angeles, so they were ready to get rid of the Angels.
“You don’t want to be swept by anybody, so, yeah, there’s significance,” manager Trey Hillman said after Kansas City’s fifth win in 25 home games since the All-Star break.
The AL West-leading Angels continued their September hitting funk, failing to take advantage of numerous opportunities against Royals starter Kyle Davies (7-9).
Los Angeles, which hit .206 the first five games of the month, left runners in scoring position in four of Davies’ five innings and stranded 12 overall. The Angels drew eight walks.
Bobby Abreu hit a solo homer in the fifth inning, the first for the Angels in 44 innings, and just missed another in the seventh off Jamey Wright. The rest of the Angels missed most of their chances, particularly against Davies, finishing 2 for 11 with runners in scoring position.
“Today was tough because we had a bunch of chances and had some missed opportunities,” Angels third baseman Chone Figgins said. “We’re happy the way the series went, but usually when we get that many runners on base we score a little more runs than we did today.”
Davies walked six and allowed baserunners in every inning, escaping a bases-loaded jam in the first, leaving runners in scoring position twice more the next three innings. Following Abreu’s homer, the Angels stranded Vladimir Guerrero at third after he doubled and advanced on shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt‘s wild throw from about 15 feet.
Davies didn’t come out for the sixth after allowing a run on five hits. He threw 46 balls among his 96 pitches.
“I thought I had really good stuff, just the location wasn’t the best,” who won at home for the first time since June 13 against Cincinnati. “I had to make a lot of pitches with men on base and I was able to do that.”
That left it up to Kansas City’s house-of-cards bullpen with a 5-1 lead in the seventh. Abreu’s double off Wright and a walk began the Angels‘ rally, and Kyle Farnsworth gave up consecutive run-scoring singles to Torii Hunter and Kendry Morales.
For once, it ended there. Roman Colon allowed a double in the eighth and Joakim Soria walked one and struck three the ninth for his 22nd save in 25 chances – a good step for a bullpen that’s been the worst in baseball at holding leads.
“I was really pleased with that,” Hillman said.
Santana had lowered his ERA almost two points (to 5.68) over the past month, but wasn’t nearly as sharp against the Royals.
The right-hander needed 49 pitches to get through the first two innings, giving up consecutive RBI singles in the first to Mike Jacobs and Alberto Callaspo through the same hole on the right side. He botched a potential double play in that inning by throwing into center for an error on a comebacker.
Santana also left a 2-2 slider over the plate in the fifth to Butler, who hit it off the Royals Hall of Fame in left for a two-run homer that put Kansas City up 4-1.
Butler added a two-out, RBI single in the sixth to chase Santana.
“I thought Ervin’s stuff was good,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “I don’t think the results matched his stuff this afternoon.”
Royals 3B Mark Teahen was called out in the seventh inning when first-base umpire Todd Tichenor ruled his chopper up the line hit his body. … Figgins has reached base a majors-best 250 times after going 2 for 2 with two walks.