ANAHEIM (AP) — Ian Kennedy and Cliff Pennington are former teammates and good buddies, although that second relationship could be up for review after Pennington’s homer broke up Kennedy’s bid for a perfect game.
“He’s a terrible friend of mine,” Kennedy said with a laugh. “I’m probably deleting him from my phone.”
Kennedy probably won’t have to do anything that drastic, thanks to Lorenzo Cain’s latest feats of prowess for the streaking Kansas City Royals.
Cain hit two homers and drove in three runs, and Kennedy retired the first 17 Angels to end his 16-start winless skid in the Royals’ sixth consecutive victory, 3-1 over Los Angeles on Friday night.
Kennedy (1-6) pitched six innings of two-hit ball and stayed perfect until Pennington hit his first homer since last August. Kennedy was winless in his first 11 starts this season, but he escaped a subsequent sixth-inning jam and hung on for his first victory since Sept. 11, 2016.
“It feels really good,” Kennedy said of ending his skid. “I knew (about the streak). Some guys in (the clubhouse) didn’t know. It’s nice to get one, and hopefully more will come from there. I was ahead and attacking. Since I’ve been here, that’s the best I’ve pitched for sure.”
The USC product and native of nearby Huntington Beach also beat the Angels for the first time in six career starts.
Kennedy’s winless streak was the third-longest in Royals history. Philadelphia’s Jerad Eickhoff is the only remaining winless pitcher in the majors with at least 10 starts.
Kelvin Herrera pitched the ninth for his 14th save in 16 chances for Kansas City, which improved to 5-0 against the Angels this season.
Cain posted the fifth multi-homer game of his career and his second in a week, connecting for solo shots in the third and eighth innings. He also drove in Alex Gordon with a two-out single in the fifth.
The Royals’ longest winning streak of the season has coincided with Cain’s tear through California. The slugger has eight hits and six RBIs in three games starting Wednesday in San Francisco, and he has six homers in his last six games since June 10 in San Diego.
“I’m just swinging at better pitches,” Cain said. “We’re all playing better now. We definitely got off to a rough start, as we all know, but we’ve been saying it’s going to be a long season. We’re going to continue to battle.”
CHAVEZ GETS HIT
Jesse Chavez (5-7) yielded nine hits over seven innings, but he has allowed at least one homer in 12 straight appearances dating to April 21, extending the longest active streak in the majors.
After the Angels didn’t really come close to a hit in their first 17 at-bats, Pennington smashed a belt-high, 3-1 fastball into the elevated right field stands.
“We all knew that it was going on,” Pennington said of his friend’s perfect game bid. “That’s one of the few times he fell behind (in the count), and he came at me with a good pitch to hit.”
The utilityman got his first extra-base hit of the season and his first homer in 78 games since Aug. 11, 2016.
“It’s just a fluky thing,” Pennington said. “Maybe I’ll rattle off 10 in a row here real quick.”
Royals: LHP Danny Duffy continued his recovery from a strained oblique muscle by throwing a side session back in Kansas City. He’ll throw again next week.
Angels: Reliever Cam Bedrosian expects to be activated from the disabled list Saturday. He has missed 53 games since April 22 with a strained groin. … Reliever Huston Street pitched one perfect inning for Triple-A Salt Lake. He hasn’t played for the Angels this season due to a strained lateral muscle. … Matt Shoemaker is improving after exiting his last start early with tightness in his forearm, but manager Mike Scioscia feels it’s unlikely that the right-hander will make his next start as scheduled.
Royals: Jakob Junis (2-0, 4.67 ERA) makes his fourth start and sixth appearance of the season. He has also made seven Triple-A starts between his four stints with the big-league club.
Angels: Alex Meyer (2-3, 4.05 ERA) continues to establish himself as a rotation regular, although he couldn’t get out of the fifth inning against the Yankees in his last start.
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