ANAHEIM, Calif. – The Los Angeles Angels were shut out for the ninth time, matching their total for all of last season. And there are still 92 games left on their schedule.
Vin Mazzaro, who came into Sunday's game with a 17.47 ERA, pitched seven stellar innings and the Kansas City Royals turned five double plays to beat the Angels 9-0 in the rubber game of the three-game series. Torii Hunter's double-play grounder was his 18th, the most in the majors, and just four shy of his total last year.
"It's hard to believe, especially because of the lineup we have," Bobby Abreu said after the Angels' seventh loss in eight games. "The way we're swinging, all of the pitchers look a little tougher. I don't want to offend anyone, but we haven't hit the way we're supposed to hit. We've got a solid lineup that can produce some runs, but right now we're having a tough time."
This was the third straight start by Angels right-hander Tyler Chatwood (3-4) in which his teammates didn't score while he was in the game. But it may not have mattered this time because of the way the rookie scuffled with his command. He threw 82 pitches in 3 2-3 innings, giving up five runs, five hits and three walks.
"Tyler Chatwood just didn't have his command today," manager Mike Scioscia said. "Those guys were patient and got some key hits with guys in scoring position."
Alex Gordon, Billy Butler and Chris Getz each drove in two runs for the Royals, who won seven of their 10 meetings with the Angels — just the second time they've taken a season series from them in the last 15 years. It was their highest victory total against the Halos since 1996, when they won eight of 112.
"On the confidence side, it's hit and miss right now," Scioscia said. "We need to get our mojo back, get our swagger. Our guys are prepared. Our guys are competing like hell — maybe to a fault sometimes."
Kansas City got its first run in the second inning when Mitch Maier drew a leadoff walk and was balked home by Chatwood, who was chased during the Royals' four-run fourth.
Matt Treanor hit an RBI double and Getz followed with the first of his two run-scoring singles. Treanor was thrown out at the plate on a grounder to first by Alcides Escobar, but Gordon lined an 0-2 pitch to left-center for a double that scored two runs and gave Kansas City a 5-0 cushion before Hisanori Takahashi was summoned from the bullpen.
Mazzaro (1-1) scattered five hits, walked five and did not strike out a batter in his third start with Kansas City. The 24-year-old right-hander pitched to contact throughout the game, inducing double-play grounders by Howie Kendrick, Mark Trumbo and Abreu in addition to Hunter's. Hank Conger lined into the other one. All five were started by shortstop Escobar.
"This is the Mazzaro we saw last year that we wanted to trade for — a guy that can change speeds, get you off balance and command the baseball," manager Ned Yost said. "That's a good offense over there, and they can put runs on the board in a hurry. They're just stale right now and they're struggling to score runs."
Mazzaro also escaped a bases-loaded jam in the seventh by retiring Peter Bourjos on a fielder's choice with his 102nd pitch. Blake Wood worked the final two innings.
"Vin pitched a great game today," said Royals rookie first baseman Eric Hosmer, who finished with 11 putouts. "Whenever guys were on base he was getting that slider and sinker down, getting them to roll over on it. That's why we turned so many double plays. He was pitching to contact and did a great job for us."
Mazzaro came in with a whopping 17.47 ERA after giving up 22 earned runs, 25 hits and eight walks in just 11 1-3 innings this season spanning three appearances. Most of that damage came during his only relief outing on May 16 against Cleveland, when he surrendered 14 runs and 11 hits over 2 1-3 innings in the Royals' 19-1 loss and was optioned to Triple-A right after that game.
"Mazzaro was throwing sinkers and a pretty good slider, and we didn't make good contact," Abreu said. "Sometimes he came up with a changeup, and he threw almost everything middle-away. No one struck out today, but we didn't produce any runs."
Before the game, Los Angeles optioned reliever Kevin Jepsen to Triple-A Salt Lake and recalled infielder Andrew Romine from their Triple-A club to give the club some infield depth. Third baseman Alberto Callaspo, who pulled his left hamstring on the back end of a double-steal in the Angels' 7-5 win Saturday night, will be rested for the next several days until the club decides if he needs to go on the disabled list.
NOTES: The last time the Angels hit into this many double plays in a nine-inning game was Aug. 3, 2004, when Minnesota executed six against them in Carlos Silva's complete-game 10-0 victory at the Metrodome. ... The Halos hit the road for their next 12 games, two wins shy of 4,000 for the franchise during the regular season. The trip ends with three games up the freeway at Dodger Stadium. ... Mazzaro came in 1-2 lifetime against the Angels with a 5.92 ERA. ... Angels TV analyst Mark Gubicza, who spent the 1997 season with the Halos and was a member of the Royals' 1985 World Series championship team, threw a ceremonial first pitch.