Vladimir Guerrero hit a first-inning grand slam and the surging Los Angeles Angels held on to beat the reeling Kansas City Royals 7-5 on Tuesday night in Kansas City for their 10th victory in 12 games.
The Royals, who became the first team ever to finish the month of April 10 games under .500 three straight years, lost for the seventh time in nine games. Their 8-19 record is the worst in the majors.
The first three Angels singled on Zack Greinke’s first seven pitches to load the bases. Greinke quickly went to 3-0 on Guerrero. Then after a called strike, the seven-time All-Star sent the next pitch sailing 435 feet over the fence in left-center for his fifth grand slam.
Guerrero, whose two-run double in the first inning Monday night led the Angels to a 3-1 win, has driven in 27 runs in 25 games. The Royals walked him intentionally the next two times he came up, each time with a runner in scoring position.
Bartolo Colon (3-0) went five innings and gave up nine hits and five runs, with five strikeouts and one walk. His ERA went from 1.93 to 3.79. Francisco Rodriguez pitched a perfect ninth for his 10th save in 11 chances.
Leadoff man Gary Matthews Jr. was 4-for-5 and scored three runs for the Angels, who have won 15 of their last 17 in Kauffman Stadium.
Greinke (1-3) gave up six runs and 10 hits in five innings. He struck out three and walked two.
The Royals pulled to within 5-4 on Mark Teahen’s three-run home run in the four-run third.
Just ahead of Teahen’s homer, Esteban German singled home Tony Pena Jr., who walked leading off the third. It was the seventh consecutive inning the Royals had put their leadoff runner on base, but the first time one had scored.
The Angels went up 5-0 when Matthews tripled and scored on Orlando Cabrera’s double. Casey Kotchman, after Guerrero was intentionally walked for the second straight time, hit a sacrifice fly for a 6-4 lead in the fourth.
German’s RBI single made it 6-5 in the bottom of the fourth. Reggie Willits had a career-best three hits and singled home the Angels’ seventh run in the eighth.
Billy Butler made his major league debut, starting in left field, and drew a big ovation when he singled in his first at-bat. He also singled in the eighth.
CARPENTER THROWS: Cardinals ace Chris Carpenter, sidelined since opening day with an elbow injury, threw against teammates on Tuesday in another step in his rehab.
Carpenter said he felt fine after the workout. He will be re-evaluated on Wednesday.
HUGHES LEAVES WITH INJURY: Rookie pitcher Phil Hughes of the New York Yankees was working on a no-hitter in the seventh inning against the Texas Rangers when he came out of the game with an apparent leg injury.
He was replaced by Mike Myers, who got through the seventh without allowing a hit before giving up a leadoff double in the eighth to Hank Blalock.
Hughes winced and grabbed his left thigh after throwing an 0-2 breaking ball to Mark Teixeira with one out in the seventh. It was Hughes’ 83rd pitch of the game.
Yankees manager Joe Torre, pitching coach Ron Guidry and a trainer came out to the mound to check on Hughes, who was removed from the game. The nature of the injury wasn’t immediately known.
TENNIS: Tuesday’s boys’ tennis match between Hickman and Rock Bridge was postponed because of weather. The make up date is to be determined. The Bruins next matches are home against Hannibal today and Jefferson City Helias Thursday. The Kewpies upcoming match is at Hannibal Tuesday.
KEYSHAWN RELEASED: When the Carolina Panthers drafted Southern California receiver Dwayne Jarrett in the second round Saturday, Keyshawn Johnson was ecstatic.
“This is a great pick. We need another wide receiver,” Johnson gushed while working as a draft analyst for ESPN. “This guy is much like me. I’m going to teach him how to play from the point of attack.”
He won’t get the chance.
The Panthers deemed their older former USC receiver was expendable Tuesday.