Ka’aihue homer powers Kansas City past Angels
Friday, April 1, 2011
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kila Ka’aihue hit Michael Kohn’s second pitch of the ninth inning for a game-ending home run, lifting the Kansas City Royals to a 2-1 victory over the Los Angeles Angels on Friday night.
Kohn (0-1) relieved Jordan Walden to start the ninth and was ahead 0-1 in the count when Ka’aihue, who had struck out twice, slammed the ball 393 feet over the fence in right.
Joakim Soria (1-0) pitched the ninth for Kansas City.
The Royals tied it 1-all in the fourth on an infield out by Jeff Francoeur after Billy Butler singled and moved up on a hit and a wild pitch.
Howie Kendrick gave the Angels a 1-0 lead on the eighth pitch that starter Jeff Francis threw as a Royal, swatting the full-count delivery over the fence in center for a 418-foot home run. But that was all the Angels would get off Francis, a 30-year-old who is still trying to make a full comeback from left shoulder surgery that sidelined him the entire 2009 season and part of 2010.
The Angels had at least one base runner in five of the next six innings but could not break through against the 6-foot-5 left-hander, stranding runners in scoring position in the second, third and fifth.
Starters Dan Haren of the Angels and Francis both went seven impressive innings, allowing only one run and six hits.
Haren, going for his fourth win in his last five starts in Kansas City, hurt himself with a wild pitch that helped the Royals score their lone run off him. He had six strikeouts and no walks.
Francis, who signed as a free agent from Colorado, gave up five hits and one run, walking one and striking out four.
Vernon Wells made a great catch to stop the Royals from taking the lead in the sixth. Alex Gordon doubled leading off, went to third on Butler’s groundball and was there with two outs when Francoeur hit a line drive into deep left. Wells went back and made a leaping catch almost at the wall.
The Royals also stranded a runner at third in the third, fifth and eighth. Mike Aviles tripled with two outs in the third but Haren struck out Melky Cabrera. In the fifth, Brayan Pena doubled leading off and was at third when Aviles popped up and Cabrera flied out. Aviles walked leading off the eighth against reliever Walden and went to third with two outs when he stole second and kept going on catcher Jeff Mathis’ throwing error. But Walden struck out Butler.
NOTES: Angels are opening season at Kansas City for the first time. ... According to Angels’ research, Mathis was only third man in major league history to hit an opening day home run on his birthday. ... With a payroll of $36,126,000 and an opening day average age of 27.21, Royals are youngest and poorest team in the majors.
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