KANSAS CITY -- Left-hander Tyler Skaggs delivered the best start of the season for the Angels on Sunday, but it wasn't enough to end a skid in a 1-0 loss to the Royals at Kauffman Stadium.
Alcides Escobar's game-winning hit off Cam Bedrosian in the ninth spoiled an outstanding effort from Skaggs, who tossed seven scoreless innings and matched his career high with nine strikeouts. He held the Royals to just four hits and two walks on 103 pitches.
It was a significant turnaround for Skaggs, who had recorded an 8.71 ERA over his first two starts.
"It feels great," Skaggs said. "That's what you want to do every day. You go out there every five days and you want to put it all together. You have four days to kind of think about -- especially if you have a bad outing -- how good the next one can be. I'm happy with myself, but at the same time, we still got the loss today. It's a work in progress."
Skaggs had to grind through the first two innings, giving up three singles and one walk while stranding a pair of runners in each frame. He led off the third by issuing a walk to Lorenzo Cain, but he struck out the next three batters looking to end the inning. After that, he retired 12 of the last 13 hitters he faced, allowing only a one-out single to Escobar in the seventh.
"He was really good mixing his pitches," Escobar said. "Good curveball, good fastball, good changeup. He was tough."
Skaggs said he has a special affinity for Kansas City, where he made his first start in the Majors after returning from Tommy John surgery last July. The 25-year-old also shut out the Royals over seven innings in that outing.
"I love this place," Skaggs said. "I always have a good feeling here. Good vibes when I take the mound. Just kind of takes me back to a good place in time for me. I enjoy pitching here."
While the Angels' rotation has been effective over the last two contests, their offense has suddenly gone cold, batting just .160 (25-for-156) over their five-game losing skid. On Sunday, Royals starter Ian Kennedy -- Skaggs' former D-backs teammate -- struck out 10 over eight innings.
"He's actually my old teammate and an old mentor of mine with the Diamondbacks, so of course I'm watching him," Skaggs said. "I actually texted him right after I came in. I said, 'That was a hell of a battle.' Hopefully I'll pitch against him next time at home and come out with a W."
Maria Guardado covers the Angels for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.