By Jeffrey Flanagan and Alden Gonzalez
KANSAS CITY -- Left-hander Danny Duffy threw six innings of one-run ball, Eric Hosmer belted a two-run homer and the Royals' weary bullpen this time held on through three scoreless innings to sew up a 4-1 series-evening win over the Angels on Friday night.
"Holly came up [to us] today, he wanted to get back on the horse bad," manager Ned Yost said. "In any type of save situation, he was going out there. He was spectacular. ... He's got a lot of confidence in his abilities and he wants the ball in those situations."
Added Duffy: "Nothing really is going to bring us down to the point that we can't pick ourselves back up and dust ourselves off again. We're a very confident group and we just try to erase and re-record."
Jered Weaver started for the Angels and went six innings, giving up four hits and three runs, two of them earned. He walked two and struck out three while picking up the loss, as the Angels dropped to 2 1/2 games back of the Astros in the American League West.
"I felt good today," Weaver said after his second start since coming off the disabled list. "Command was good. Just one bad pitch."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Hoz bomb: Hosmer did not have very good swings against Weaver through his first two at bats -- two lazy popups. But on his third try, Hosmer waited patiently on a Weaver offspeed pitch and unleashed a drive over the Angels' bullpen in right field and into the seats for a two-run homer. The homer was projected by Statcast™ to land 410 feet away with an exit velocity of 111 mph. Hosmer's 14th jack also put the Royals up 3-1. More >
What could've been: Trailing by two against Madson, the Angels got five baseruners in the seventh and couldn't score. Conor Gillaspie and Taylor Featherston were both caught between second and third on grounders, but Calhoun and Trout drew back-to-back two-out walks to load the bases. Then, Albert Pujols grounded out to end the threat, putting his average at .206 with runners in scoring position this season. More >
"That's my job, and I'm not doing it," Pujols said. "I'm not going to look for excuses. I'm just going to keep fighting and try to put good swings on it. It seems like I'm in between right now of putting good swings and it's not going the way that I want to, then I get down in the hole and I feel like I'm defending the strike zone. I'm getting my pitch to hit and I'm missing my pitch. There's nothing I can do; just keep fighting, keep battling."
Duffy on target, sort of: Duffy pitched a pretty clean six innings, allowing just five hits and one run. He didn't walk anyone, but he did hit three batters, tying a franchise record. He became the 11th Royal to hit three batters in a game.
"I thought Duffy did a great job," Yost said. "That's a scary lineup over there. They've got a lot of power. They can hit. Duff did a great job of getting us through six with one-run ball. Kept us in the ball game. He pitched real effectively in, even though he hit three hitters. ... Just did a good job of keeping them off balance with breaking ball and changeup."
Early woes: The Angels' lack of success against Duffy was just the latest in a string of struggles against opposing starters, a point manager Mike Scioscia alluded to while emphasizing the importance of early runs after Thursday's comeback. Five starters -- Duffy, Jeremy Guthrie, John Danks, Carlos Rondon and Chris Sale -- have limited the Angels to five runs in 33 2/3 innings on this road trip. Over their last 16 games, an opposing starter has completed six innings and given up two runs or fewer 13 times.
"Some of it is cyclical, some of it is just some guys are just not as comfortable in the box," Scioscia said. "A month ago, during that streak [of winning 17 out of 20 games], we were pounding the ball."
2 MILLION FANS
With a crowd of 36,926 fans on Friday, the Royals broke the two-million mark -- 2,007,638 -- for the first time since 1991.
ROYALS WIN CHALLENGES
The Royals challenged an out call in the third inning on a stolen base attempt by Alcides Escobar. After review, the call was overturned in 2:01. In the seventh, Featherston was caught in a rundown between second and third and was initially ruled safe. A replay showed that Escobar did tag Featherston on the back of the jersey and the call was overturned after a 50-second review.
WHAT'S NEXT Angels: Right-hander Matt Shoemaker will start the third game of this road series on Saturday at 4:10 p.m. PT. In his last start against the White Sox, Shoemaker allowed more than five runs for the first time since May 21, snapping his 19-inning scoreless streak.
Royals: Ace Johnny Cueto will make his second start at Kauffman Stadium on Saturday at 6:10 p.m. CT. In a sizzling home debut, Cueto tossed a four-hit shutout and struck out eight in a win over the Tigers on Monday.