Butler hits game-winning home run vs. Angels

KANSAS CITY (AP) — Alcides Escobar saved the Kansas City Royals with his glove. Billy Butler won it with his bat.

Butler hit a game-winning, two-run homer in the ninth inning Wednesday for a 2-0 victory over the Los Angeles Angels, one that wouldn’t have been possible if not for the slick fielding by the Royals’ young shortstop.

Jeff Francoeur singled with one out before Butler connected off Scott Downs (3-2). The ball hit behind the outfield padding in left-center field and bounced back into play, and the umpires initially ruled it a double before video showed it to be a home run.

“I ran out and told (umpire) Fieldin Culbreth, ‘I’ve got no stinking idea where that ball hit,”’ Royals manager Ned Yost said. “He said, ’Don’t worry about it. We’re going to do the right thing right now because I’m not really sure either. We’ll go check it.’ The replay showed it did make it over that fence and bounced back.”

Angels manager Mike Scioscia asked for an explanation off the homer, but didn’t debate it.

“The ball went over the green rail and that’s a home run,” he said. “If the ball disappears behind the green rail it is a home run. It was a home run.”

It was Butler’s first career game-winning homer.

“It’s tough to tell here with home runs because we don’t have a yellow line and the seats are right there and it bounces back a lot,” Butler said. “He took a second to signal it when he returned. I didn’t think he was going to signal.”

The Angels loaded the bases in the eighth when the Royals used four pitchers, but Escobar made a diving stop to his right of Alberto Callaspo’s sharp grounder on the edge of the outfield grass. He then threw him out at first to end the inning — and keep the game scoreless.

“That’s a hard play,” Escobar said. “Right now I’m working very hard on defense because my offense is a little bit down.”

Escobar is hitless in his past 12 at-bats to drop his average to .212.

“Spectacular,” Yost said. “He saved the game for us twice. He saved us four runs.”

Tim Collins (3-2), the fifth Royals pitcher, pitched 11⁄3 flawless innings for the win.

Felipe Paulino, who made his first start of the season after 19 relief appearances, held the Angels to four singles over five innings, striking out four without an issuing a walk.

The Royals acquired Paulino last week from the Colorado Rockies, who had designated him for assignment. Paulino has thrown 91⁄3 scoreless innings and given up five hits, while striking out seven and walking none in his first two appearances with Kansas City.

Paulino worked out of a bases-loaded jam with none out in the third after infield singles by Alexi Amarista and Erick Aybar and Mike Aviles’ fielding error. Paulino struck out Bobby Abreu and coaxed Torii Hunter to ground into a double play.

Angels rookie Tyler Chatwood went 72⁄3 innings and gave up five singles. The Royals did not get a runner past second base off Chatwood before the eighth.

“We wanted to be able to give him some runs and we weren’t able to do it,” Scioscia said. “Any frustration has to be tempered by the fact that we’ve got a lot of youngsters in the lineup. Fortunately, on the horizon we’ll get two big guys (Vernon Wells and Howie Kendrick) back (off the disabled list) which will help with our lineup depth.

“But still, we need to get better. There’s no doubt we should have had some early runs and given Tyler something to work with.”

Notes: Angels 2B Howie Kendrick (right hamstring tightness) will be activated Saturday. ... Royals RHP Kyle Davies (rotator cuff inflammation) threw off the mound Wednesday. ... Angels 1B Kendry Morales (left ankle surgery) had his splint removed Wednesday and replaced with a hard cast. ... OF Vernon Wells (strained right groin) is taking batting practice and will go through a full workout Friday at Anaheim. He will be evaluated by the medical staff.

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