Royals pitchers have walked an AL-worst 344 batters. Two free passes Monday night came back to haunt them.
Howie Kendrick drew a leadoff walk from Bruce Chen in the sixth inning and scored on a single by Maicer Izturis. Greg Holland walked light-hitting Peter Bourjos on four pitches with two outs in the eighth and got burned when pinch-hitter Kendrys Morales delivered a rare three-run single to help the Los Angeles Angels beat Kansas City 6-3.
"We're giving up walks in crucial situations, and we've got to find ways to eliminate that," manager Ned Yost said. "We needed to go right after Bourjos. We weren't pitching around him. He is dangerous in that situation because he's got tremendous speed, he chops down and gets a lot of infield hits. But we had a pretty good idea that Morales was going to hit for the catcher."
Alberto Callaspo, who spent two-plus seasons with the Royals, started the tiebreaking rally with a two-out single against Holland (4-3). Izturis bounced a double over the head of first baseman Eric Hosmer and down the line.
Third base coach Dino Ebel, respecting the strong arm of right fielder Jeff Francoeur, held Callaspo at third. Bourjos, batting .223, drew a walk and zipped around the bases when Morales drove a 1-1 pitch to right-center while batting for Bobby Wilson.
"I made Callaspo look pretty bad on a breaking ball and then tried to go back fastball away with two strikes and overthrew it, didn't locate it," Holland said. "I didn't want to walk Bourjos because he was hitting .226 coming into the game, but I felt comfortable with Morales up. I fell behind him, then got the count back to 1-1 and left a pitch up in the middle of the plate."
Kevin Jepsen (1-1) pitched 1 1-3 innings of two-hit relief after taking over for starter C.J. Wilson. Scott Downs worked a perfect ninth for his ninth save in 11 chances.
Angels rookie Mike Trout extended his franchise-record streak to 15 consecutive games with a run scored, three shy of the AL mark set by Red Rolfe of the Yankees in 1939 and equaled by Kenny Lofton of the Indians in 2000. The 20-year-old phenom is the first player to score a run in 15 straight games since Matt Holliday did it with Colorado in 2008.
Royals lefty Bruce Chen gave up three runs and five hits in 5 1-3 innings. Izturis chased the 14-year veteran when he punched an opposite-field RBI single to right to give the Angels a 3-2 lead.
Royals No. 9 hitter Brayan Pena got Chen off the hook in the seventh with an RBI single after Hosmer singled and advanced on a wild pitch.
Wilson allowed three runs and nine hits over 6 2-3 innings and struck out six. The left-hander finished 0-2 in July with a 4.55 ERA in five starts — the first time he has gone winless in a calendar month since becoming a full-time starter in 2010 with Texas. He was one of four players who represented the Angels at the All-Star game a couple of weeks ago in Kansas City, but wasn't able to pitch because of a blister on his middle finger.
"You go through streaks where you get lucky and streaks where you get unlucky. You just have to look at the performance you do for yourself," Wilson said. "Tonight, I gave up three runs. I'm upset about that. I'm upset about giving up as many hits as I did. So that's under my control. If I lose 2-1, then I can be frustrated. But if you get a no-decision because you're giving up three runs, that's your fault."
The Royals took a 2-0 lead in the third on Alex Gordon's RBI single and a long sacrifice fly from Lorenzo Cain, robbed of a home run by Bourjos on a towering drive to left-center.
"It wasn't a great play, but it was a good play," Yost said. "Their outfielders are so fast, so they can play deep."
Wilson minimized the damage by retiring Mike Moustakas on a grounder with two on, but the Angels tied it in the bottom half. Albert Pujols delivered the first run with a groundout after a leadoff single by Trout and a double by Torii Hunter. One out later, Kendrick doubled home Hunter.
Chen is 0-2 with a 9.25 ERA in his last five starts after going 7-2 over his previous 10 outings. He pitched six scoreless innings against the Angels on opening day and ended up with a no-decision.
NOTES: Chen is in his fourth season with Kansas City, longer than any of the other nine big league teams he's pitched for. ... Royals rookie LHP Will Smith, a seventh-round draft pick by the Angels in 2008, will face Los Angeles on Tuesday night in his fifth big league start. He was traded to Kansas City with reliever Sean O'Sullivan in a deal that sent Callaspo to the Angels in July 2010.