KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — After a disappointing start to the season, the Los Angeles Angels are heating up.
Mike Trout had his 21st multi-hit game, Jason Vargas pitched into the eighth inning and the Los Angeles Angels beat the Kansas City Royals 5-2 on Friday night to extend their winning streak to six games.
Trout had two hits, stole his 11th base and scored two runs, including one on a wild pitch. He is hitting .366 in May.
“You don’t want to bank on extended streaks, but you do want to get on a roll,” Trout said. “We probably could have done some things better tonight, but we got some clutch hits when we needed them. Jason got some huge ground balls when he needed them. You know what you are going to get from him. He throws strikes and works quick.”
Vargas (4-3) allowed two runs and five hits over 7 1-3 innings to win is fourth straight decision in five May starts. Vargas, who is 12-4 in May since the start of the 2009 season, went 0-3 in April.
“I don’t feel any different than before,” Vargas said. “It’s just that the situations and outcomes have been different. I’ve been a little more efficient with pitch counts and controlling the count. ”
Vargas has lowered his ERA from 6.74 on April 16 to 3.43.
“He’s using both sides of the plate and changing speeds,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “He understands his stuff and is very consistent with it. He’s letting his defense make plays.”
Trout led off the Angels’ three-run seventh with a walk and stole second. Mark Trumbo extended his hitting streak to nine games with a RBI-single. The inning also included Albert Pujols scoring on a Howie Kendrick sacrifice fly and Trumbo scoring on Alberto Callaspo’s double.
The Angels had chances against Kansas City starter Luis Mendoza, but the team was 1 for 9 with runners in scoring position against him.
“My ball was everywhere,” Mendoza said. “I just tried to don’t get hurt.”
Trout scored the only run off Mendoza in the third inning and that was on a wild pitch with two out. He bumped into Mendoza at the plate.
“A little bit, just my left knee, but there is nothing serious,” Mendoza said. “I’m good.”
Miguel Tejada’s second home run of the week and the 306th of his career tied the score in the third.
In the fifth, Lorenzo Cain singled and stole second. Vargas intentionally walked Tejada with two outs, but Chris Getz’s singled up the middle to score Cain.
Luke Hochevar (0-1), who replaced Mendoza, could not keep the 2-1 lead for long. Chris Iannetta homered for the second straight night to tie it 2-2 before the Angels broke it open in the seventh.
Mendoza allowed seven hits and a run in five innings. He walked four and had two wild pitches.
Garrett Richards, who replaced Vargas, got Getz to ground into a double play to end the eighth with runners on the corners. Richards got the final five outs for his first save in two opportunities.
The Royals lost for the 14th time in 18 games to fall a season-worst three-games below .500. They have scored two or less runs in 11 of those defeats.
“I don’t feel like we’re pressing,” Royals designated hitter Billy Butler said. “I just don’t feel like we’re catching breaks here-and-there. It’s a tough night.
“We’re falling on the wrong side of things right now. A hit here, a hit there and we’re back in it. We’ve been in a lot of close games lately, one hit away, one pitch away, it seems like every game.”
Notes: RHP Billy Buckner, who was a rookie in 2007 with the Royals, will start Saturday. He will be the 10th starter used by the Angels, while the club used only eight starters last year. He was promoted May 16 from Triple-A Salt Lake, where he was 4-2 with a 4.56 ERA in eight starts. … 3B Mike Moustakas, who is hitting .149 in May, was not in the Royals lineup. Tejada started at third. … Royals LHP Danny Duffy, who had reconstructive elbow surgery last June, will begin a minor league rehab assignment Sunday with Double-A Northwest Arkansas. … Callaspo has nine RBIs in his past 11 games. … Angels starting pitchers have a 1.98 ERA during their six-game winning streak.