Dan Haren can help the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim bounce back after a gut-wrenching loss when they visit the Kansas City Royals for the finale of a three-game series at Kauffman Stadium.
The Angels were two outs away from a shutout victory in game two on Saturday night when Billy Butler and Salvador Perez hit back-to-back homers in the bottom of the ninth inning to lift the Royals to a 3-2 win.
Zack Greinke, a 2009 Cy Young Award winner with the Royals, struck out Alcides Escobar to begin the ninth before giving up a single to Alex Gordon. Angels manager Mike Scioscia decided to remove Greinke, who had thrown 109 pitches through 8 1/3 innings and was in line to win his fifth straight start with the visitors ahead, 2-0.
Butler crushed Ernesto Frieri's (3-1) first pitch over the center-field wall for a game-tying home run. Perez then drove a 1-1 offering off the left-field foul pole to send Kansas City to a dramatic walk-off victory.
"To win a game like that is a big momentum shift for us," Butler said. "Hopefully, we can ride it out the rest of the season."
The Angels remain 2 1/2 games out of a playoff spot.
"We wanted to give them a different look. Obviously it didn't work out," Scioscia said.
Greinke and Kansas City's Jeremy Guthrie were both stellar on the mound. Greinke limited his former club to five hits, all singles, while Guthrie allowed two runs on five hits over eight frames.
The Royals have won Guthrie's last eight starts, with the right-hander going 4-0 with a 1.78 ERA in that stretch.
Kelvin Herrera (4-2) worked the ninth to pick up the win.
A California native who turns 33 on Monday, Haren dropped a game below .500 in his most recent start on Sept. 10, losing a 3-1 decision to Oakland after surrendering three runs on four hits in 6 1/3 innings.
He'd won two straight before the loss - at Seattle and at Oakland - while combining to allow a single earned run on eight hits in 13 innings.
Those victories got him to double digits for the second time in two full seasons with the Angels and the eighth time in a big-league career that began with the St. Louis Cardinals in 2003.
He's reached a career-best 16 wins twice as a big-leaguer, first with Arizona in 2008 and again with the Angels last season, when he was 16-10 and posted a 3.17 earned run average in a career-high 238 1/3 innings.
He's 4-2 in nine career starts against the Royals.
Haren is opposed by rookie lefty Will Smith, who turned 14 in the year Haren debuted in the majors.
A product of Florida Gulf Coast University, Smith downed the Angels for his second big-league win on July 24 in Anaheim, allowing just two hits and a run in seven innings of a 4-1 triumph.
He's won three of seven decisions across eight starts since, including a 9-1 rout of the Minnesota Twins after throwing seven scoreless innings in his last start on Sept. 11.
Smith has won just once in five home starts in Kansas City.
The teams split their initial six games of 2012, with the Royals taking two of three in Anaheim in April before the Angels took two of three there in July. Kansas City won the 2011 series, seven games to three.