Angels Outslug Royals to End Six-Game Losing Streak
ANAHEIM, CA (AP) -- Angels manager Mike Scioscia didn't mince words during his closed-door meeting with his top three run producers: Torii Hunter, Bobby Abreu and Vernon Wells. The offense wasn't getting the job done, and they were being held accountable.
The rest of the Los Angeles hitters must have been listening outside the door of Scioscia's office during the expletive-laced session, because the team responded with a big night at the plate.
Erick Aybar opened the scoring with a three-run triple, Abreu came home with the go-ahead run on reliever Aaron Crow's second wild pitch of the seventh inning, and the Angels snapped a season-worst six-game losing streak with a 7-5 victory over the Kansas City Royals on Saturday.
Howie Kendrick had three hits, including a pair of RBI singles, and the slumping Wells singled his first three times up.
Scioscia called the meeting before batting practice to impress upon his three veteran All-Stars their responsibilities as a trio in the middle of the lineup to wake up a slumbering offense that had averaged two runs over the previous nine games.
"Man, he cursed us out. It was pretty bad," Hunter said. "The words he used in there really hurt our feelings, but it actually pumped us up to keep going. He really cursed me out. It wasn't fun. But I appreciate that meeting. Today we had a lot of fight. We got better swings from everybody and played the game the right way. It was a lot of fun. That's what we have to continue doing."
Hunter, Abreu and Wells were a combined 4 for 10 with two walks and no RBIs. Hunter prevented the Royals from taking the lead in the seventh when he fielded Jeff Francoeur's single to right field and threw out Melky Cabrera at the plate for his eighth outfield assist this season.
"I had a clean scoop on it and I just told myself to make a nice, accurate throw to the plate and give Jeff Mathis something he could handle," Hunter said. "I knew that if they sent him, he was dead. I couldn't believe that they sent him."
Royals reliever Tim Collins (3-3) was replaced by Crow after giving up a pair of one-out walks in the bottom half. Abreu scored on the wild pitch to Alberto Callaspo, who was intentionally walked. Wells and Callaspo executed a double steal, and Wells scored on Kendrick's single off Crow's left foot.
Scott Downs (4-2) retired all four batters he faced to get the win, and rookie Jordan Walden pitched a scoreless ninth for his 14th save in 17 chances. He struck out Eric Hosmer and Francoeur before retiring Billy Butler on a fly to right with the potential tying runs at second and third.
"It feels good to get that six-game losing streak out of the way. It was ugly," Hunter said. "I almost jumped up and down after catching that last flyball. I felt like I won the World Series."
Angels right-hander Joel Pineiro came up short again in his sixth attempt to get his 100th major league victory. He was charged with five runs and seven hits over 5 1/3 innings, leaving with a 5-4 lead before Matt Treanor greeted Rich Thompson with a tying RBI single. It was the seventh hit the Australian-born righty allowed in his last four appearances.
"The situation that's going on has nothing to do with 100 wins," Pineiro said. "Honestly, I wanted to win for the team. I didn't care if it was 100, 300, whatever. I mean, I just wanted to get back on track and do what I'm supposed to be doing. I'm just hoping that when it turns around, it turns around big. There's no excuse tonight. I got the runs. For some reason, my off-speed stuff was better than my sinker."
Mike Moustakas tried to score on a safety squeeze by Chris Getz moments later, and was cut down at the plate by first baseman Kendrick's throw to Mathis. Alcides Escobar walked, loading the bases, but Thompson came back to strike out Alex Gordon.
Moustakas, the second overall pick in the 2007 draft and one of nine rookies on the Royals' roster, hit his first major league home run in his sixth plate appearance -- a solo shot that landed in the second row above the 18-foot wall in right-center with two outs in the fourth inning and trimmed the Angels' lead to 5-3.
"It was awesome," said teammate Eric Hosmer, who played with Moustakas in Triple-A and came up to the majors a month before he did. "Everyone was really happy for him. And for him to do it here in his hometown with his family watching, it was a special moment for him. He's as big a competitor as anybody in this clubhouse. When he gets hot, there's no turning back. These first couple of games, he's looked really comfortable at the plate, and it's going to be a fun ride for him from here on out."
Cabrera narrowed the gap to 5-4 in the fifth with an RBI single.
Wells led off the Angels' four-run second against Felipe Paulino with a single before Los Angeles loaded the bases with none out. Aybar then smacked a 1-2 pitch inside first base and down the line to clear the bases, and Maicer Izturis drove him in with a sacrifice fly.
Two of the runs were unearned, the result of a fielding error by Getz on a routine grounder to second by Callaspo.
The Angels tacked on another unearned run in the third, after Wells singled again and got to second on an errant pickoff throw by Paulino -- the first error by a Royals pitcher since Jeremy Jeffress' wild pickoff throw April 18 against Cleveland. Kendrick drove in Wells from third with an infield hit.