Published January 13, 2015
Joe Blanton finally cracked the win column as the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim held on for a 5-4 victory over the Kansas City Royals in the opener of a four-game series.
Blanton (1-7) avoided matching Rickey Clark's dubious mark for the worst start to a season by an Angels pitcher. The right-hander allowed just two runs on seven hits over 6 1/3 innings and picked up his first win of the season with the help of four home runs by his teammates.
Mark Trumbo belted a two-run shot while Mike Trout, Albert Pujols and Chris Iannetta all added solo blasts for the Angels, who eked out their fifth straight victory after Ernesto Frieri gave up two runs in the ninth.
Ervin Santana (3-4) was denied win No. 100 by the team that traded him away during the offseason. Santana spent his first eight seasons with the Angels and was in a position to show up his former club eight years to the day he earned his first career victory.
But the long ball spoiled an otherwise solid start for Santana, who served up four homers while being charged with five runs on eight hits in 7 2/3 frames.
The Royals, losers in six of seven games since taking two of three in Anaheim earlier this month, were trailing 3-2 in the seventh and had runners on the corners with one out.
Angels manager Mike Scioscia pulled Blanton in favor of Sean Burnett, and the left-handed reliever worked out of the jam by getting pinch-hitter Miguel Tejada to bounce into a 6-4-3 double play.
Trumbo added some much-needed insurance in the eighth. After Trout reached on an infield single, Trumbo got the green light on a 3-0 count and found the left-field bullpen for his 11th home run of the season.
Garrett Richards stranded a pair of Royals in the eighth, and Frieri nearly squandered the 5-2 lead in the ninth. Salvador Perez hit an RBI single and scored on pinch-hitter George Kottaras' two-out base hit to pull the Royals within 5-4.
Chris Getz worked a walk to put the tying run on second base, but after another timely pitching change by Scioscia, Robert Coello induced Alcides Escobar into a game-ending flyout to pick up his first career save.
"We weren't really able to capitalize in certain situations," Getz said. "We hit a lot of balls hard. It just happened to go right at guys."
In the first inning, Trout annihilated a low, inside fastball to straightaway center for his eighth home run this month. The sizzling line drive cleared two of the levels beyond the center-field wall, nearly hit the scoreboard hovering over Kauffman Stadium and was estimated to travel 433 feet.
"I was just looking for a pitch over the plate and I got it," Trout said. "I wasn't trying to go deep obviously, just trying to stay up the middle and put the barrel on it."
Pujols crushed a similar pitch three innings later to deep left-center for his eighth home run of the season, and Santana missed his spot again in the fifth when Iannetta cleared the left-field wall.
The Royals scored in the fourth and fifth innings on run-scoring groundouts. Getz doubled leading off the fourth and came around on Alex Gordon's bouncer to second, and Mike Moustakas beat out a potential inning-ending double-play ball in the fifth to plate Lorenzo Cain.
Trout recorded his 10th homer and 10th stolen base ... Clark began the 1968 campaign with an 0-8 record ... The Royals came in averaging 2.33 runs with Santana on the mound, the lowest run support among qualifying AL pitchers ... Santana finished with eight strikeouts ... Gordon went 0-for-3 and had his 10- game hitting streak snapped ... Perez had three of Kansas City's 10 hits.