It's a glove story for KC pitching and defense

Sick catches by Cain, Aoki support gem of a start by Vargas

It's a glove story for KC pitching and defense

ANAHEIM -- There's something about Jered Weaver that brings out the best in Jason Vargas, and that was the case again on Thursday night at Angel Stadium.

Vargas, starting for the Royals in Game 1 of the American League Division Series, held the Angels to two runs in six innings. Weaver held the Royals to two runs in seven, but Vargas and his teammates emerged with a 3-2 victory in the 11th.

  Date Time Matchup/Result Network
Gm 1 Oct. 2   KC 3, LAA 2 video
Gm 2 Oct. 3   KC 4, LAA 1 video
Gm 3 Oct. 5   KC 8, LAA 3 video

This is the fourth time in his career that Vargas has pitched against Weaver, his former teammate at Long Beach State in 2004 and with the Angels last season. In those four games, a span of 27 1/3 innings, Vargas has allowed three runs. His team has won three of those four games.

"I don't know if that has anything to do with facing him," Vargas said. "I'm just glad it worked out that way. I just go out there and worry about the other lineup."

He did that nicely in Game 1. Vargas, who went 0-3 with a 9.00 ERA in his last four starts in the regular season, allowed just three hits and a walk while striking out two. The only runs he allowed came on solo home runs by Chris Iannetta and David Freese.

"He did an outstanding job," center fielder Lorenzo Cain said.

"To be able to go out and pitch like that in Game 1 was huge," Vargas said. "To bounce back the way I did from some of those struggling starts I had at the end of the season was a good feeling."

Vargas was assisted by some excellent defensive plays. Cain was especially helpful, making a leaping catch on Kole Calhoun's drive to lead off the first and then a diving catch to take a single from Erick Aybar in the fifth.

Vargas only had to deal with baserunners in the sixth inning. Calhoun singled with one out. After Mike Trout flied out to right, Albert Pujols drew a walk. With two on and two out, Howie Kendrick hit a fly to deep right. Cain missed making a great catch at the wall, but right fielder Nori Aoki was there to snag it for the third out.

"If we don't make the catches that we did, we're not in here celebrating," Vargas said.

Vargas exited with the score tied and manager Ned Yost used seven relievers to hold down the Angels scoreless until they could finally break through. They did so on Mike Moustakas' homer in the 11th, with Danny Duffy getting the victory and closer Greg Holland getting the save.

But Yost said it all started with Vargas.

"Jason Vargas pitched one heck of a ballgame tonight," Yost said. "Six innings. Gave up two hits, both of them were homers. But our game plan going into it was [for him to] get us six innings, keep us in the game and turn it over to the bullpen, and boy, he did that in fine fashion."

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.