ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — With all the power they possess in the middle of their lineup, the Los Angeles Angels don’t usually need home runs from Chris Iannetta.
Yet that’s what they got in a three-game series with the Kansas City Royals.
The veteran catcher hit a tiebreaking homer in the eighth inning Sunday to lift the Angels to a 4-3 victory. He also connected Friday night for their first run in a win.
Iannetta’s latest go-ahead drive sailed into the lower seats in the left-field corner.
“I didn’t know if it was going to go out or not. I was just hoping it would stay fair. I’m glad it did,” he said.
Reliever Tim Collins (0-3) retired the first batter in the eighth before Iannetta hit his fifth homer of the season.
“I just missed. I was trying to go away,” Collins said. “You can’t miss your spots in those situations. That’s what I did, and that’s what happens.”
Michael Kohn (2-1) pitched a scoreless inning. Ernesto Frieri got three outs for his sixth save, retiring Alcides Escobar on a popup with a runner on third.
Garrett Richards, trying to preserve some arms in the Angels’ bullpen following Saturday night’s 13-inning 7-4 loss, pitched seven innings and allowed three runs on five hits. He struck out seven and walked two.
“I was prepared to go back out for the eighth, with the bullpen being taxed from last night,” Richards said. “But I always try to go deep in game because I know that if I do, I’m doing my job. I’m going as hard as I can for as long as I can.”
Royals starter Jason Vargas was charged with a run and three hits over 6 1-3 innings in his return to Angel Stadium, and was lifted after 109 pitches with a 3-0 lead.
Kelvin Herrera took over with a runner at first and gave up a single by No. 9 hitter Collin Cowgill on his first pitch. Mike Trout hit an RBI double with one out, Albert Pujols was hit by an 0-2 pitch and David Freese had a tying, two-run single.
Pujols tried to score the go-ahead run from second on C.J. Cron’s sharp single, but Lorenzo Cain — starting in right field for the first time this season after 28 starts in center — threw him out at the plate.
Vargas struck out six and tied a career high with five walks. This was the sixth time in 165 big league starts that the 31-year-old left-hander has walked as many as five batters, and the first time since July 20, 2011, with Seattle.
“I think he was being extra careful with Pujols and Trout — and Howie Kendrick’s also tough,” manager Ned Yost said. “That’s a powerful lineup over there. So either he was going to make his pitch, or he wasn’t going to make a mistake to those guys and let them drive it out of the ballpark.”
Vargas walked his first batter in the second, third and fourth innings after giving up a leadoff single in the first, but the Angels couldn’t capitalize. He walked his first two batters in the third before retiring Pujols on a double-play grounder to shortstop and striking out Freese.
“It was just one of those games where I had to battle through some innings,” Vargas said. “I was just missing and wasn’t able to get ahead on some of those guys, but I was fortunate to get back into some counts later in the inning and ended up getting out of it.”
The Royals, who scored first in all three games of the series, took a 3-0 lead in the second. Pedro Ciriaco hit a bloop double that scored Jimmy Paredes, who singled and advanced on Richards’ first balk in 291 1-3 career innings to that point.
Jarrod Dyson reached on a fielding error by Gold Glove shortstop Erick Aybar, and Eric Hosmer followed with a sacrifice fly before Alex Gordon capped the rally with an RBI single.
Richards retired his next 11 batters, striking out the side on 11 pitches in the fifth.
“Other than the third inning, it was good,” Richards said.
Vargas was 9-8 with a 4.02 ERA in 24 starts with the Angels last season after four years with Seattle. He signed a four-year, $32 million contract with Kansas City on Nov. 21.
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