Nolasco hit hard as Halos fall to Royals

Nolasco hit hard as Halos fall to Royals

ANAHEIM -- Lorenzo Cain and Alex Gordon each hit home runs to back left-hander Matt Strahm's impressive outing as the Royals topped the Angels, 7-2, in Thursday night's series opener at Angel Stadium.

Kansas City tallied 15 hits, and eight of its nine starting batters logged at least one hit. Whit Merrifield, Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas each added run-scoring hits and Gordon finished a triple shy of the cycle. The Royals won their season-high fifth straight game.

"We feel like we're playing well right now," Gordon said. "I think before this road trip, I feel like the team hasn't really clicked all together, and it kind of feels like we're starting to do that. And the good thing is we never really got too far out of it. We're still in this race."

Merrifield's RBI double to left

Angels starter Ricky Nolasco surrendered five runs on 10 hits and two walks across six innings. He gave up his 20th and 21st home runs of the season, the most allowed by an American League pitcher this season.

Los Angeles manager Mike Scioscia attributed opponents tagging Nolasco for homers due to the right-hander missing spots.

"He battled to get through six, but he's not quite where we know he can be," Scioscia said. "When he's on, he's getting that good action and keeping the ball down, and making pitches."

"Just got to concentrate on making better pitches," Nolasco said. "Forget about this one tonight and go on to the next one, just like I do every five days."

Strahm, making his first big league start after pitching out of the bullpen, allowed one unearned run in five innings.

Strahm strong in starting debut

"A lot of good things happened tonight," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "Very encouraging. Matt got us through five innings. And the offense is staying hot."

Strahm's first career start


Not-so seventh heaven: Royals catcher Salvador Perez followed Hosmer's one-run double with a towering pop-up into shallow right field. Angels first baseman C.J. Cron, second baseman Danny Espinosa, and right fielder Kole Calhoun ranged over, but the ball managed to drop safely for a single. Upon fielding it, Cron fired home to prevent Hosmer from scoring, but allowed Perez to advance to second. Moustakas then grounded a two-run single on the ensuing at-bat, to give the Royals a 7-2 advantage in the bottom of the seventh.

"They went hard at it," Scioscia said of the play. "It's just one of those balls that's right in the tough spot."

Moustakas' two-run single

Gordon's redemption: Gordon's error in left field in the first inning allowed Calhoun to advance to second base before scoring on Albert Pujols' single to give the Angels a 1-0 lead. Gordon redeemed himself when he roped a double into right field that Calhoun mishandled, allowing the tying run to score. Gordon, who was a triple shy of the cycle, scored on Merrifield's ground-book double on the next at-bat to give the Royals a 2-1 lead.

"I'm too old and too slow," Gordon said of trying to get a triple. "I just went for another homer."

Gordon on offensive performance

For the first time since 1979, the Royals now have scored seven or more runs in five straight games.

With two out in the bottom of the fifth, Espinosa hit a shot toward the left-field foul pole that first was ruled his seventh home run of the season. The umpires convened and then, after a 28-second replay review, the home run was overturned. Espinosa then struck out, ending the inning.

Espinosa's fly ball ruled foul

Royals: Right-hander Ian Kennedy (0-6, 5.40 ERA) takes the mound in game two of the series against the Angels on Friday at 9:07 p.m. CT. Kennedy gave up four runs in six innings and got no decision against the Padres last Saturday in a game the Royals rallied to win, 12-6.

Angels: Right-hander Jesse Chavez (5-6, 5.06 ERA) will make his 14th start of the season during Friday's matchup against Kansas City at 7:07 p.m. PT. In six career appearances against Kansas City, Chavez is 0-1 with a 1.65 ERA (three runs allowed over 16 1/3 innings).

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Jeffrey Flanagan is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter at @FlannyMLB.

Kaelen Jones is a reporter for based in Anaheim.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.