Guthrie entered the game without a loss in his previous 18 starts, a franchise record that dated to Aug. 8, 2012, when he beat the White Sox. During that period, he was 10-0 with a 2.21 ERA and the Royals were 16-2.
"It was one of those nights when I just didn't have a good feel and wasn't able to execute pitches and got frustrated out there," Guthrie said.
For Guthrie, who pitched seven innings, the loss put him at 5-1 for the year.
The Royals folded to left-hander Jason Vargas, with only the suddenly hot Billy Butler inflicting any damage. Vargas worked seven-plus innings and improved his career record against the Royals to 5-1 with a 3.38 ERA.
"He commands the ball well, he throws fastballs in, changeups away," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "And he commands his changeup really well, down and away. So he keeps us really off-balance. When we start looking away for the changeup, boom, he busts us in. When we start looking in, boom, it's changeup away."
Speaking of boom, that's what Butler managed against Vargas with an RBI double in the fourth inning and a solo home run in the sixth. That came right after his 5-for-5, five-RBI game in the Royals' 11-4 win in the series opener.
In the meantime, however, Guthrie couldn't stop the home runs from flying. Pujols got things started by leading off the fourth with a resounding blast to left. Old story for the slugger against his hometown team. In his career against Kansas City, Pujols is now at .355 (83-for-234) with 17 homers and 57 RBIs.
"They've got some guys that have got some tremendous pop over there," Yost said.
Yep. Kendrick also went deep to left in the fourth. Hamilton sent a drive soaring to center in the sixth. Trout hammered one to left in the seventh. It was the third four-homer game against the Royals this season.
And Guthrie remembered every pitch.
"Pujols was a 2-0 fastball, I tried to run it hard in and it really didn't have much action to it," Guthrie said. "Kendrick was an 0-1 pitch, I tried to throw a changeup low and away and left it up. Hamilton was the first pitch, I was trying to go low and away and left it low-middle and he golfed it out. Trout, I tried to go hard in and it was in off the plate, and he did a nice job and barreled it."
For the struggling Angels, the outburst was a refreshing tonic.
"It's just good to create a little fuel to the fire there up and down the lineup, which is a good thing, to see guys smiling, having fun," Hamilton said.
The Royals were involved in a couple of strange-looking fielding plays early in the game. With Trout at first base in the first inning, second baseman Miguel Tejada caught Pujols' soft looper. Trout was running to second and the Royals appeared to have an easy double play in the offing. Tejada, ball in hand, was running toward first base and so was Guthrie.
"Tejada had a chance to go to the bag to make the play, but he also saw Jeremy running right in front of him so he was thinking, 'OK, I'll toss it to him,'" Yost said. "But Jeremy was thinking, 'OK, I'll get the heck out of his way so he can go to the bag.'"
There was no throw and Trout scrambled back to first safely. Fortunately for the Royals, Guthrie got the third out.
And in the third inning, with Chris Iannetta at first base, J.B. Shuck's bunt stayed fair for a hit as third baseman Mike Moustakas and catcher Salvador Perez hovered over the ball. Seeing third base unguarded, Iannetta rounded second and headed over. However, Moustakas alertly charged to the bag, called for the ball from Perez and tagged Iannetta out.
"It was a heads-up play by both Moustakas and Perez," Yost said.
But in the end, Guthrie's 18-start streak without a loss was over.
"It just shows you how fragile a streak like that is and how easy it is just to have one game in there in the midst of those, and that just ends it," Butler said. "We have great confidence in him. We know when he goes out there, we have a chance to win every time."
Guthrie, asked the secret of his long-running success, had a quick answer.
"Team effort," Guthrie said. "They picked me up, and tonight they tried to battle for me and I couldn't get any momentum on our side. But the streak is because of 25 guys who played well every time I was on the mound. ... That's the only way a streak like that happens."
"Now we just start a new streak for him," Yost said.