ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Howie Kendrick jokingly credited all the treadmill work he has done over the years for helping him hit the first inside-the-park home run -- of his life.
Truth is, if he didn't make it all the way around the bases Friday, it wouldn't have been a laughing matter for the Los Angeles Angels second baseman.Kendrick's two-run homer in the sixth inning that started out as a fly ball down the right-field line, ended up giving the Angels key insurance runs in a 4-1 victory that put a stop to the Kansas City Royals' six-game win streak.Kendrick was merely jogging down the first-base line until Royals right fielder Jose Guillen overran the ball. The he kicked it into high gear and scored standing."It was mentioned to him," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said.In his third start of the season, Angels rookie Matt Palmer picked up his third victory. Palmer, who grew up a St. Louis Cardinals fan, allowed one run and two hits in 5 1/3 innings, giving him one earned run allowed in each of his last two outings.After moving a season-low five games under .500 on April 25, the Angels have won eight of their last 11. They also have won five of their last six.The AL Central-leading Royals lost for just the second time since April 28.The fundamentally sound brand of baseball that has led the Royals to a hot start disappeared for a key play. When Guillen overran the ball, it dropped behind him just inside the foul line, and TV replays appeared to show the ball clipped the side of his glove."I got under it and I just missed it," Guillen said. "I closed the glove before the ball got there. I have no excuse. That's a play you should make. I got there in time, I just missed it."Kendrick's fourth homer of the season was the first inside-the-park for the Angels since Gary Matthews did it June 17, 2007, at Dodger Stadium.It was a tough break for Royals starter Gil Meche, who had a solid outing going until Kendrick's homer. He lasted just two more batters.Meche (2-3) gave up four runs on eight hits with seven strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings. Kendrick's homer was the first Meche has given up this season.Even without Guillen's misplay, Palmer still was ahead in the duel with his counterpart. The right-hander, who went to high school in Caruthersville, Mo., in the southeast portion of the state, had only made three big league starts before this year, all last season with the San Francisco Giants.He wouldn't even be in the rotation had it not been for an Angels pitching staff that has been decimated by injuries and the tragic death of Nick Adenhart."The manager and the pitching coach said to just come up here, do what you do and trust your stuff," Palmer said. "I know myself and they know that I have good movement on my pitches and they said to just trust it."Darren Oliver came on in relief of Palmer and recorded his 1,000th career strikeout when he got David DeJesus swinging to end the top of the seventh inning. Angels closer Brian Fuentes pitched a perfect ninth inning for his eighth save in 10 chances.Jeff Mathis hit a two-out RBI single in the second inning, and Mike Napoli had an RBI single in the third.The Royals scored their only run in the sixth on a double by Billy Butler.
Angels manager Mike Scioscia confirmed that injured RF Vladimir Guerrero (torn pectoral muscle) will initially be used at DH when he returns from the DL in two to three weeks. ... With an off day Monday, Angels rookie P Anthony Ortega is expected to be skipped in the rotation. ... Despite 109 major league starts since 2004, Kansas City's Zack Greinke will be making his first start at Angel Stadium on Saturday. ... With two steals Friday, the Royals' Coco Crisp has five in his last three games after none in his previous 11 games.