Smith handles Halos after Cain's early homer

Smith handles Halos after Cain's early homer

Smith handles Halos after Cain's early homer
ANAHEIM -- It took Lorenzo Cain a long time to get back. But it didn't take him any time at all to get going.

Cain continued his hot hitting, and his two-run homer jump-started the Royals toward a 4-1 victory over the Angels with 35,051 fans enjoying the 73-degree Tuesday evening, if not the result, at the Big A. Rookie left-hander Will Smith pitched seven innings of two-hit efficiency to get his second win.

Since coming off the disabled list after being out three months with leg injuries, Cain is 16-for-41 (.390) with three home runs.

"I'm feeling good right now," Cain said. "I'm just trying to make it last as long as possible."

With right-hander Garrett Richards starting for the Angels, Cain was supposed to yield the third spot in the Royals' batting order to the left-handed-hitting Mike Moustakas. Yet manager Ned Yost changed his mind because Cain was hitting the ball so well.

Good decision. Cain came up in the first inning after Alex Gordon doubled and Alcides Escobar bounced out. He pulled Richards' 1-0 pitch into the left-field seats for a two-run homer.

In the series opener on Monday night, Cain's bid for a homer was thwarted by center fielder Peter Bourjos' take-away catch. Not this time.

"I pulled it a little bit, got it down the line, and 330 is a lot shorter than whatever it is to center field," Cain said.

The Royals added two more runs in the second inning after Eric Hosmer walked and Chris Getz singled. Gordon looped an RBI single to left, and Getz scored as Escobar rapped into a forceout. As it turned out, that's all it took.

Smith, starting for the first time against the team that drafted him in 2008, yielded one run in the Angels' first inning. Torii Hunter singled, Albert Pujols walked and Mark Trumbo drilled an RBI single. But third baseman Moustakas then snatched Howie Kendrick's hot smash to start an inning-ending double play.

"It's always nice to have double plays," Smith said. "The defense I have behind me is unreal."

And there were no more hits and no more runs off of him.

It also turns out that he and Richards are buddies.

"He's a good friend of mine," Smith said. "Any time he comes into town throughout the Minors, I'll take him to dinner, and if I'm at their place, he'll take me to dinner."

Smith also had played in the Minors with the Angels' Trout and Trumbo, and they gave their teammates a little sneak preview of the lefty.

"Actually, Trout spoke up and Trumbo spoke up, and they gave us a little insight on what this guy is featuring," Hunter said. "They were right on point. He has an over-the-top arm motion. He has a little cutter, has a changeup, has a slider, has a curveball. He threw everything but the kitchen sink."

The Angels are a tough lineup for a left-handed pitcher.

"Yeah, there's no lefties," Smith said.

The bullpens were on alert because both rookie pitchers were using up a lot of pitches, with Richards reaching the 55 mark after two innings. Smith was at 53 after the third inning and couldn't locate his fastball.

"He was wild enough that he was tough to hit," Yost said.

Both got on track, though. Richards retired 10 of the last 11 batters he faced, and he made it through five innings with 96 pitches.

Smith outlasted him, though, going seven innings and 102 pitches.

"Something just clicked," Smith said. "Some nights are like that. You struggle through the first innings with fastball command, something clicks and it's there. The first three innings I had no fastball command, and after that it showed up, which was nice."

Sure was. When Smith was finished, right-hander Greg Holland, shaking off his loss of the night before, bounced back with a scoreless eighth inning.

"As a bullpen guy, you've got to be able to flush it out," Holland said. "Smith threw a heckuva game and got me in there with a three-run lead, so it was nice."

Closer Jonathan Broxton survived two soft singles in the ninth to get his 23rd save.

"Brox threw the ball really well. An infield hit and a blooper, but he threw the ball really well. Fastball at 97 and a good slider," Yost said.

Cain obviously has given the Royals' offense a boost since coming back.

"Awesome, he's been great," Gordon said. "Obviously [Jarrod] Dyson was great for us, too, in center, but 'Zo came in and has kind of given us a spark."

For all his success, Cain is playing with his legs -- primarily his left one -- not at full strength.

"Wheels are OK, they're improving. I was actually able to steal my first base tonight, so that's definitely an improvement," he said.

Cain estimates that his "wheels" are at about 80 percent right now.

"You'll notice when I'm 100 percent," Cain said. "Trust me, you'll see it."

Dick Kaegel is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.