Crow new closer for Royals after Soria blows another save

Kansas City Royals' Billy Butler (16) beats the tag by Los Angeles Angels catcher Hank Conger during the seventh inning of a baseball game in Kansas City, Mo., Monday, May 30, 2011. Butler was safe at home plate.

Kansas City Royals' Billy Butler (16) beats the tag by Los Angeles Angels catcher Hank Conger during the seventh inning of a baseball game in Kansas City, Mo., Monday, May 30, 2011. Butler was safe at home plate. Photo by The Associated Press.

KANSAS CITY (AP) — After blowing three saves in a week, Joakim Soria has lost his job as Kansas City’s closer.

Soria, who has been the Royals’ closer since halfway through his rookie season in 2007, allowed three runs and four hits, including a two-run homer by Torii Hunter, in a 10-8 loss Monday to the Los Angeles Angels.

Manager Ned Yost has been standing by Soria, but after his latest debacle, said he would use rookie Aaron Crow, who has a 1.33 ERA in 22 appearances, as his closer “for the time being.”

“We’ve gotten to a point where we’ll back Jack off,” Yost said. “We’ll give him a break, with a sense of getting him back to the closer’s role, but getting him in situations where maybe he can throw multiple-innings in less pressure situations.

“He had a rough road trip. I wanted to give him one more opportunity. I take full responsibility. That was my decision. That’s not Jack’s fault. That’s my fault. I’m the manager and make those pitching decisions. I wanted to give Jack another opportunity to see if he could go out and get over the hump.”

Soria, who blew a save Sunday at Texas, has one save in five opportunities in May. He failed to hold an 8-7 lead.

“It gets to a point now where if I continue to try to do that, it gets detrimental to not only our team, but to Jack, too,” Yost said. “It’s time to step up and make a change and let him take a step back, get himself together and then take over that closer’s role sometime in the near future.”

Soria (3-3) saved 43 games in 46 opportunities last season and has been an All-Star two of the past three years. He has a 6.55 ERA after blowing five saves in 12 opportunities this season. He had never blown more than three saves in any previous year.

“It’s the right time to do it,” Soria said. “Where I close games, I don’t want to be part of this losing streak. The team is playing really good and they need a man that can go out after them. Right now, obviously, I don’t’ want to lose games. I give my 100 percent every time, but it’s not as good as we want.

“I think it’s the right way to do it. I try to build up, try to work hard and I try to work back on my confidence and try to be the one that I was before. I know I can do this. I’m the type of person who never gives up. This is not a give up. This is the time to take a break. And try to figure out what’s going on.”

Hunter, who had a solo home run off Everett Teaford in the seventh, drove in the 1,000th run of his career with the long drive that put the Angels on top 9-8. The Angels added a run on an RBI fielder’s choice by Mark Trumbo.

Trumbo and Peter Bourjos hit solo home runs in the eighth off Louis Coleman to bring the Angels within a run.

Rookie Eric Hosmer homered, doubled and drove in four runs to help the Royals take a 6-1 lead over Ervin Santana after two innings.

Bobby Abreu, one day after passing Lou Gehrig for 32nd on the all-time doubles list, hit two more, lifting his career total to 537. He was 4-for-5 with two RBI and two runs scored, singling just ahead of Hunter’s ninth-inning home run.

Hunter declined to say if he noticed any difference in Soria.

“I think he’s still good,” he said. “He’s still sneaky, still deceptive.”

The Royals took a 3-0 lead on Santana’s first six pitches. Alex Gordon homered on his first pitch, then Melky Cabrera took a four-pitch walk before Hosmer slammed Santana’s first delivery over the wall in right.

In the second, Santana walked Chris Getz and Gordon and hit Alcides Escobar, loading the bases. Hosmer lined a two-run double off the wall in right, tying the career high with four RBI which he had set three days earlier in Texas. Gordon went to third on the play and made it 6-1 on Jeff Francoeur’s sacrifice fly.

Kevin Jepsen (1-2) went 11⁄3 innings for the win. Fernando Rodney pitched the ninth for his second save in five opportunities.

The Royals scored two in the seventh and went ahead 8-5 on Wilson Betemit’s RBI triple and Getz’ RBI single.

Royals starter Luke Hochevar, winless since May 1, left after five innings with a 6-4 lead, allowing four runs and seven hits. Santana settled down after the second, going six innings and allowing six runs and seven hits.

Hochevar hit Macier Izturis with his first pitch and fell behind 1-0 on Abreu’s RBI single before the Royals jumped on Santana for three in the first and three in the second.

In the third Hochevar gave up an RBI double to Abreu and a run-scoring single to Alberto Callaspo.

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