By Jeffrey Flanagan and Alden Gonzalez
KANSAS CITY -- C.J. Cron and Kole Calhoun each ripped two-run doubles in a four-run explosion in the ninth off Royals closer Greg Holland as the Angels rallied for a stunning 7-6 win on Thursday night at Kauffman Stadium.
Holland blew his fourth save in 29 opportunities. After 111 straight wins when leading after seven innings, the Royals now have lost back-to-back games when leading after seven.
"I had no idea it was 111 games," Royals manager Ned Yost said, "but I guarantee that in every one of those games, you don't take anything for granted because nights like this can happen."
The Angels had trailed, 5-1, entering the eighth, but they picked up two runs off All-Star setup man Wade Davis before all six batters reached against Holland in the ninth.
David DeJesus singled and Carlos Perez walked, then advanced on a wild pitch. Pinch-hitter Cron followed with a game-tying, two-run double down the right-field line and Calhoun added the go-ahead two-run double to right two batters later.
Eric Hosmer made things interesting with a two-out homer in the bottom of the ninth, but Angels closer Huston Street retired Alex Rios on a flyout to end the game with runners on first and second.
"Frustration level is always something you're monitoring, and we've had to flush out some frustration as it comes and goes when you're not performing," said Angels manager Mike Scioscia, whose team had lost nine straight on the road. "Hopefully a win like this will give us the confidence to play a good game tomorrow and build momentum."
Royals right-hander Jeremy Guthrie, who had given up 40 hits in his last four outings, stifled the Angels on two hits through six innings. Guthrie, who perhaps has been on the verge of losing his fifth spot in the rotation, likely kept his position for one more turn with the strong outing. He gave up one run, walked three and struck out two.
"I thought I had good command of my fastball consistently," Guthrie said. "And my curveball."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Surprising success: The Angels went 1-for-32 with runners in scoring position in a three-game sweep in Chicago, then got only five baserunners in six innings against a struggling Guthrie. Then, they totaled six runs against Davis and Holland, who made up the best back-end-bullpen combo in baseball last year. All six batters reached against Holland in the ninth, an inning that saw the Angels get as many hits with runners in scoring position (three) as they had in their last five games. More >
"Oh, we needed it," center fielder Mike Trout said. "That was big. Their bullpen is probably the best in the business. They have guys that can come out and throw it hard. To score some runs off those guys is big for us; big momentum shifter for us."
Davis sighting: The Royals had been without Davis since Aug. 6 because of tightness in his back. Davis came on in the eighth to a loud ovation, trying to protect a 5-1 lead. With a runner on first, Davis threw a couple of cutters past Trout before Trout jumped a 3-2 fastball for an RBI double to center. Later, David Murphy had an RBI groundout.
Big AB club: Some unlikely figures came up with big RBIs in the Royals' sixth to give them a 3-1 lead. Kendrys Morales walked and Mike Moustakas doubled with none out. But Garrett Richards had fought his way out of trouble earlier in the game in similar situations. However, Rios came through with a drive fairly deep to right to score Morales. Then with two out, catcher Drew Butera, who looked overmatched his first two times up, drove a slider into left field for an RBI hit.
Bouncing back: Richards began the game by giving up three straight singles, a bad sign for an Angels team coming off a 13-inning game and, thus, a depleted bullpen. But the 27-year-old right-hander bounced back, retiring his next seven batters, completing six innings -- with three runs across -- and giving his team a chance at the end.
"It got interesting there and fun," bench coach Dino Ebel said. "When you start putting guys in different positions, they get all fired up for it, which is good to see."
"It's definitely a win to build on. We still have three more games against this team. It's one of the best teams in baseball over there, but it's definitely encouraging and exciting to score those runs the way we did off Davis and Holland, who, I think, are two of the best relievers in baseball." -- Street, on the Angels' comeback
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Davis gave up two runs in a game for the first time since April 5 of 2014 -- a span of 114 outings. The line-drive double Trout hit off him traveled 114.10 mph off his bat, according to Statcast™, making it the third-hardest ball Trout has hit all season.
WHAT'S NEXT Angels: Right-hander Jered Weaver will start the second of this four-game series at 5:10 p.m. PT on Friday. In his first start since coming off the disabled list Sunday, Weaver gave up two runs and struck out seven in five innings against the Orioles.
Royals: Left-hander Danny Duffy will get the ball on Friday at 7:10 p.m. CT for the rematch in this four-game series at Kauffman Stadium. Duffy didn't make it out of the fourth inning in his last start on Sunday against the White Sox.