ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) - Mike Moustakas needed only two games to get his first big league home run. He also found out what it was like to get thrown out at the plate.
Moustakas, the second overall pick in the 2007 draft and one of nine rookies on the Kansas City Royals' roster, went deep against Joel Pineiro in his sixth career plate appearance - a solo shot that landed in the second row above the 18-foot wall in right-center with two outs in the fourth inning. But it wasn't enough, as the Los Angeles Angels beat the Royals 7-5 on Saturday night.
``Everyone was really happy for Moose,' said teammate Eric Hosmer, who played with Moustakas in Triple-A and came up to the majors a month before he did. ``It was awesome. And for him to do it here in his hometown with his family watching, it was a special moment for him. He's as big a competitor as anybody in this clubhouse. When he gets hot, there's no turning back. These first couple of games, he's looked really comfortable at the plate, and it's going to be a fun ride for him from here on out.'
Royals reliever Tim Collins (3-3) was replaced by Aaron Crow after giving up a pair of one-out walks in the bottom half. Bobby Abreu scored on Crow's second wild pitch of the inning - to Alberto Callaspo, who was intentionally walked. Vernon Wells and Callaspo executed a double steal, and Wells scored on Howie Kendrick's single off Crow's left foot.
Scott Downs (4-2) retired all four batters he faced and rookie Jordan Walden pitched a scoreless ninth for his 14th save in 17 chances. He struck out Hosmer and Jeff Francoeur before retiring Billy Butler on a fly to right with the potential tying runs at second and third.
``We definitely had an opportunity there - second and third with no outs in the ninth and the meat of your lineup - so you expect to get the job done,' Butler said. ``But you have to give credit to Walden. He had impressive stuff.'
Erick Aybar opened the scoring with a three-run triple against Felipe Paulino, helping the Angels end a season-worst six-game losing streak. They came within one game of tying a dubious franchise record for consecutive games scoring three runs or fewer, set in September 1981.
``It feels good to get that six-game losing streak out of the way. It was ugly,' right fielder Torii Hunter said.
Kendrick had three hits, including a pair of RBI singles, and the slumping Wells singled his first three times up after a closed-door meeting with manager Mike Scioscia that also included Abreu and Hunter.
Scioscia called the three veteran All-Stars into his office before batting practice to impress upon them their responsibilities as a trio in the middle of the lineup to wake up a slumbering offense that had averaged two runs over the previous nine games.
``The gist of the meeting was not one of those guys has to carry us,' Scioscia said. ``We were just talking about some things in the lineup we need to move forward with. As a whole, that group is a good middle of the order if they just get into their games.'
Hunter, Abreu and Wells were a combined 4 for 10 with two walks and no RBIs after the expletive-laden tongue-lashing they got from the usually mild-mannered Scioscia.
``Man, he cursed us out. It was pretty bad,' Hunter said. ``The words he used in there really hurt our feelings, but it actually pumped us up to keep going. Today we had a lot of fight. We got better swings from everybody and played the game the right way. It was a lot of fun.'
Hunter prevented the Royals from taking the lead in the seventh when he fielded Francoeur's single to right field and threw out Melky Cabrera at the plate for his eighth outfield assist this season.
``I had a clean scoop on it and I just told myself to make a nice, accurate throw to the plate and give Jeff Mathis something he could handle,' Hunter said. ``I knew that if they sent him, he was dead. I couldn't believe that they sent him.'
Angels right-hander Joel Pineiro came up short again in his sixth attempt to get his 100th major league victory. He was charged with five runs and seven hits over 5 1-3 innings, leaving with a 5-4 lead before Matt Treanor greeted Rich Thompson with a tying RBI single.
``Our approach with Pineiro was just like with any sinkerball pitcher - just try to make him get the ball up and over the plate,' Butler said. ``We've done pretty good against him in the past, and tonight we just kept battling and gave ourselves a chance to win.'
Moustakas tried to score on a safety squeeze by Chris Getz moments later, and was cut down at the plate by first baseman Kendrick's throw to Mathis. Alcides Escobar walked, loading the bases, but Thompson came back to strike out Alex Gordon.
Cabrera narrowed the gap to 5-4 in the fifth with an RBI single.
Two of the runs in the Angels' four-run second were unearned, the result of a fielding error by Getz on a routine grounder to second by Callaspo. They tacked on another unearned run in the third, after Wells singled again and got to second on an errant pickoff throw by Paulino - the first error by any Royals pitcher since Jeremy Jeffress' wild pickoff throw on April 18 against Cleveland.
Kendrick drove in Wells from third with an infield hit.
NOTES: Paulino got a visit from pitching coach Bob McClure after the first five batters reached base in the second, then retired the next three - two on strikeouts. ... Pineiro got Hosmer to ground into an inning-ending double play in the fifth, after a visit from pitching coach Mike Butcher.
The Associated Press News Service
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