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Halos blanked, spoil Skaggs' strong start
By Jeffrey Flanagan and Maria Guardado
KANSAS CITY -- Alcides Escobar singled in speedy pinch-runner Raul Mondesi with one out in the ninth off right-hander Cam Bedrosian as the Royals walked off against the Angels, 1-0, on Sunday at Kauffman Stadium.
The Royals won their fourth straight as they swept the three-game set from the Angels.
"We pulled Esky over before the at-bat and made sure he knew the signs for the squeeze and safety squeeze," Royals manager Ned Yost said.
But Escobar had other ideas.
"I told them, 'Let me hit. I'll drive him in,'" Escobar said.
Asked why he decided to have Parker start the ninth instead of Bedrosian -- the Angels' best reliever who had not pitched since Tuesday -- manager Mike Scioscia said, "Blake's throwing the ball really well for us, and we're trying to save Cam for a limited role, hoping that we can get maybe a couple outs or get him through that inning. And then we have [Yusmeiro] Petit and Cam to see what happens in the 10th. But unfortunately, [Parker] set the table for those guys."
With the Angels employing a five-man infield, Bedrosian got Paulo Orlando to foul out. But Escobar floated a fly ball to medium-center that was unguarded, as the Angels had just two outfielders playing the corners.
Royals right-hander Ian Kennedy threw eight scoreless innings, allowing just two hits. He walked two and fanned 10, the 13th time in his career he has reached double digits in strikeouts.
Angels left-hander Tyler Skaggs, as he was last August while throwing seven scoreless frames in Kansas City, was dominant from the second inning on, allowing just two baserunners until leaving after the seventh. He gave up four hits altogether, walked two and struck out nine to match a career high set on May 27, 2013, against the Rangers.
"I don't know how anyone ever hits that curveball," Yost said.
The Angels have now lost five straight games and dropped to 6-7 this season. They are batting just .160 (25-for-156) over that stretch, mustering only one extra-base hit over their three-game series with the Royals.
"We hit the ball hard the whole series," Halos slugger Albert Pujols said. "We just need a couple of breaks here and there to go our way and we'll be all right."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED End of threat: Kennedy's no-hitter vanished with two outs in the fifth when C.J. Cron ripped a line-drive double just past shortstop Escobar. But Kennedy came right back to end the scoring threat by striking out Danny Espinosa. Kennedy fell behind 2-1 in the count but got Espinosa to chase two straight curveballs.
"It all starts with his fastball command," Yost said. "He's got that late life on his fastball that makes a 92-93 [mph] fastball look 96-97." More >
Have a seat:.The Royals had some chances early on against Skaggs. In the second inning, Escobar singled and Christian Colon walked with one out. But Skaggs got Drew Butera to chase a high fastball to strike out after an eight-pitch at-bat. Skaggs then fanned Alex Gordon to keep the game scoreless. More >
"I sat in the batting cage for a hitter or two in the seventh just to change our luck. It didn't work," -- Yost, on the dominance of Skaggs
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After Kennedy's eight scoreless innings, the Royals' rotation lowered its ERA to 2.31 -- best in the Majors.
WHAT'S NEXT Angels: The Angels will head to Houston for a four-game series against the Astros on Monday. Right-hander Jesse Chavez, who has logged a 5.40 ERA over his first two outings of the regular season, will start the opener. First pitch is scheduled for 5:10 p.m. PT at Minute Maid Park.
Royals: After an off-day Monday, the Royals return to action with a two-game set with the Giants starting at 7:15 p.m. CT on Tuesday. Right-hander Jason Hammel (0-1, 6.52 ERA) will make his third start this season.