By Alden Gonzalez and Jeffrey Flanagan
ANAHEIM -- Albert Pujols homered twice and Garrett Richards picked up his first victory of the season as the Angels beat the Royals, 6-1, on Monday night.
Royals starter Ian Kennedy entered having given up only three runs in 20 innings all year, but he gave up that much through the first six batters of the game, putting the first three hitters on before uncorking a wild pitch, then getting a run-scoring groundout and giving up an RBI single.
The Angels tacked on a couple more on solo homers by Pujols in the third and fifth innings. That was more than enough for Richards, who got a combined four runs of support through his first four starts and suffered three losses to some of the game's best pitchers - Jake Arrieta, Cole Hamels and Chris Sale.
"Tonight was just a little bit shaky," Richards said. "Effectively wild, I guess."
Richards gave up only an unearned run and worked around five walks in a taxing, 6 2/3-inning outing, moving to 1-3 with a 2.35 ERA. The 27-year-old right-hander handed the ball to Fernando Salas with two outs in the seventh and watched him retire Mike Moustakas to strand two runners. Mike Trout then padded the Angels' lead with his fourth home run in the bottom half, on a line drive that traveled 114 mph off his bat to left-center field.
"Those guys just need to play to their potential," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said of Trout and Pujols, who may be getting hot at the same time. "They don't have to go above and beyond. Last year, they had incredible seasons for us. We're a better team this year than we were last year. We just need those guys to play their game."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Machine ignited: Since entering Sunday's game riding a career-long 26-at-bat hitless streak, Pujols has gone 4-for-8 with three home runs. He hit two on Monday, the first of which landed near the center-field rockpile and moved him beyond Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson for sole possession of 13th place on the all-time list. The second, his fifth this season and the 565th of his career, landed in the left-field bullpen to extend the Angels' lead to four. Pujols' batting average has increased by 39 points in two games, though it's still just .171.
"Even to put my name with those legends in baseball before me is pretty special," Pujols said. "I would've never thought in my entire life that I'd be able to do that. I've done some crazy things in this game and passed some unbelievable names, but my only focus is to help this organization to win." More >
Strange start for Kennedy: Kennedy probably deserved a better fate in the first inning when the Angels jumped to a 3-0 lead. Leadoff man Yunel Escobar was nicked by a pitch to reach first. Then Rafael Ortega sent a squibber down the third-base line that was foul, but miraculously rolled back fair and settled between the line and the grass. Kennedy walked Trout, but got Pujols on a broken-bat comebacker to the mound. But Kennedy bobbled the ball, and instead of a 1-2-3 double play, he only got the force at home. A wild pitch produced one run, a groundout plated another, and then Andrelton Simmons punched a base hit to right and it was 3-0.
"I didn't really help myself much," Kennedy said. "I had that double play in my glove. My command was just off. It was a grind all night."
Third baseman Moustakas was in disbelief on the Ortega spinner.
"It was foul, came back fair," Moustakas said, "and I was hoping it would come back foul again. It almost did." More >
Earning it: Richards needed 115 pitches to record 20 outs and pick up his first victory of the season. He threw only 70 of them for strikes, but struck out five batters and induced enough soft contact to keep Kansas City at a distance. Richards attacked the Royals mostly with fastballs the first time through the order, then began to mix in his changeup and slider more frequently the second time around. Afterwards, he became the first pitcher to throw at least 115 pitches in back-to-back April starts since C.J. Wilson, also with the Angels, in 2014.
"He was just wild enough…he's got great stuff, he can get it up to 97 (mph)," Royals manager Ned Yost said, "but he was just wild enough to be really effective."
Missed chance: The Royals did have one healthy opportunity to sneak back into the game in the fourth. After Salvador Perez got the Royals' first hit, an RBI single, they had two on with one out. But Richards struck out Omar Infante and got Jarrod Dyson to tap out.
"It's special. For us who have been in the game for a long time, and coaching it, it means more because you know the guys that he's passing. The younger kids hear the names, but maybe just don't get the whole impact of what this man's doing. It's fun to watch. Albert's special for a lot of reasons. Probably the most special thing is he's not chasing numbers, he's not chasing guys. He's chasing wins." -- Scioscia, on Pujols' march up the leaderboard
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Pujols now has 52 multi-homer games. Only 11 players had more throughout their careers. Babe Ruth, the all-time leader, had 72.
Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer extended his hitting streak to 15 games, and also has reached base in a career-high 27 straight games.
Royals: Right-hander Edinson Volquez (3-0, 1.46 ERA) takes the mound after a terrific seven-inning scoreless start last week against the Tigers. But in five career appearances against the Angels, Volquez has a 9.42 ERA.
Angels:Jered Weaver makes his fourth start in the second of a three-game series. The 33-year-old right-hander limited the White Sox to one run and allowed only five baserunners in seven innings during his last start, hitting 84, 85 and even 86 mph with his fastball.