Baseball / Sports

Los Angeles Angels starting pitcher Matt Shoemaker throws in the first inning against the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Mo., on Friday, June 27, 2014. (John Sleezer/Kansas City Star/MCT)

Royals start series with Angels with 8-6 win

KANSAS CITY -- The Royals' 8-6 triumph over the Angels at Kauffman Stadium on Friday turned on a pair of firsts.

Second baseman Omar Infante powered the first grand slam of his career to cap a seven-run third inning.

Relief pitcher Michael Mariot navigated through a bases-loaded, no-out jam in the fifth with minor damage to halt an Angels rally and become a winning pitcher for the first time as a major leaguer.

The outcome got a three-game set off on a positive note for the Royals, who had dropped six of seven entering and had lost their grip on first place.

The game started on an alarming note for the Royals, when a pair of Angels hit titanic home runs in each of the first two innings off Jason Vargas.

Mike Trout splashed his in the fountain next to the Crown Vision video board, 445 feet by Royals calculation.

In the second, C.J, Cron's blast went 418 to left center.

A slumbering offense had largely accounted for six losses in the last seven games, but the Royals sprang to life in the third.

Alcides Escobar got it started with a double and he scored when Jarrod Dyson's bunt single was thrown away.

An uprising had commenced. Lorenzo Cain dunked an RBI single and Alex Gordon chipped in a sacrifice fly to give the Royals a 3-2 lead.

A nice answer inning became a definitive statement when Infante turned on Matt Shoemaker's offering and dropped it into the bullpen in left for the first grand slam on his 4,401th at-bat, spanning 13 major-league seasons.

The Angels were in a position to see the Royals' big inning and raise it when they opened the fifth with six hits.

The second was Cron's second home run of the game, and the Angels didn't stop, scoring another to make it 8-5. None were out and Royals starter Jason Vargas got the hook.

Here, Royals manager Ned Yost showed faith in reliever Mariot, who entered the game with a 6.45 ERA and an opponents' batting average of .297.

His task: Get the 3-4-5 hitters of Albert Pujols, Josh Hamilton and Howie Kendrick.

Mariot did exactly that, in breath-holding fashion.

Pujols lined hard to Gordon in left, who didn't have time to position himself for a shot at the plate. A run scored to make it 8-6.

On Mariot's best pitch of the inning, Hamilton popped to Mike Moustakas, running hard toward the wall next to the Angels dugout.

Lorenzo Cain's dash and grab in the gap to rob Kendrick of extra bases to end the inning was even better.

Mariot escaped from a major jam, got one out in the sixth before giving way to Kelvin Herrera. But Mariot, the former Nebraska standout, was around long enough to collect his first victory.

He wasn't along in bullpen heroics. Herrera was splendid, striking out three of the five batters he faced. Wade Davis responded to his worst outing of the year when he took the loss against the Dodgers on Wednesday, with a clean eighth that included two punch outs.

Greg Holland then finished it off by striking out the side in the ninth. In all, Royals relievers struck nine in the final four innings, including the final five hitters.

(c)2014 The Kansas City Star (Kansas City, Mo.)

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Distributed by MCT Information Services

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