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Two home runs propel Royals to victory over Angels

June 11, 2011

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— Jeff Francis survived a shaky sixth inning to get his first road victory of the season, left fielder Alex Gordon threw out a runner at home plate, and the Kansas City Royals beat the Los Angeles Angels, 4-2, Friday night.

Melky Cabrera and Billy Butler each hit solo homers for the Royals. Former first-round draft pick Mike Moustakas went 1-for-3 in his big-league debut.

Francis (3-6) pitched 61⁄3 innings in his third start against the Angels this season, allowing two runs and eight hits after being staked to a 4-0 lead. The left-hander, who struck out three and walked one, hadn’t won a road game since beating Florida on July 20, 2010, while pitching for Colorado.

Greg Holland retired all five batters he faced. Joakim Soria pitched a perfect ninth for his ninth save in 14 attempts and second in two nights after returning to the closer role.

The Royals have won consecutive games for the first time since May 19-20 and have clinched a season series from the Angels for only the second time in the last 15 years after taking five of seven games in Kansas City.

Ervin Santana (3-6) allowed four runs, seven hits and a season-high five walks in seven innings and struck out five. The right-hander has given up two home runs in each of his last three starts, and five of his last seven.

Third baseman Moustakas, the second overall pick in the 2007 draft behind Tampa Bay Rays All-Star left-hander David Price, was called up from Triple-A Omaha. The 22-year-old Los Angeles native was drafted out of Chatsworth High School in the San Fernando Valley.

He got his first big league hit in the sixth, a broken-bat single to right field. He scored on Alcides Escobar’s run-scoring double. Chris Getz had an RBI single in the inning.

The switch-hitting Cabrera, who came in 2 for 14 lifetime against Santana, drove an 0-2 pitch to right field for his ninth homer with one out in the first. Jeff Francoeur grounded into an inning-ending double play with the bases loaded in the third, but the Royals made it 2-0 in the fourth when Butler drove Santana’s first pitch of the inning to left field for his sixth home run.

The Angels, held to just two singles through five innings, cut the margin to 4-2 in their half of the sixth with an RBI double by Howie Kendrick and a run-scoring single by Bobby Abreu — who entered that at-bat 0 for 14 lifetime against Francis with eight strikeouts. Abreu tried to score on a single by Erick Aybar, but Gordon made a perfect one-hop throw to Brayan Pena.

Moustakas batted .287 with 10 home runs, 44 RBIs and a .347 on-base percentage in 55 games this season for Omaha. He was reunited with Eric Hosmer, another left-handed hitter who was selected third overall in the 2008 draft — two spots ahead of San Francisco catcher Buster Posey.

The Angels turned a rare 5-6 double play at third base to end the fifth inning. Third baseman Maicer Izturis made a diving grab of Francoeur’s line drive toward the hole with Cabrera breaking for the plate, and shortstop Aybar alertly raced to the bag to take the short toss from Izturis before Cabrera could get back.

NOTES: Mike Scioscia, second among active managers behind Tony La Russa with 1,847 regular-season games, gave kudos to the St. Louis Cardinals’ skipper on the day La Russa joined Connie Mack as the only managers or coaches in American professional sports history to reach 5,000 games. “That’s quite an accomplishment,” Scioscia said. “Tony’s done more than survive. He’s excelled in every situation he’s been in, and the depth of his knowledge of people in this game is remarkable. The passion he’s had to do it for as long as he has and as well as he has takes a special person, and the fire is burning in his belly as well as it ever has.” ... Four of Butler’s seven career hits against Santana have been home runs. The Royals have hit 11 homers this season against the Angels, including game-ending drives — by Butler (June 1), Kila Ka’aihue (April 1) and Matt Treanor (April 3). ... All six of the Royals’ top draft picks from 2004 through 2009 are currently on the 25-man roster — Butler, Gordon, Luke Hochevar, Moustakas, Hosmer and Aaron Crow. ... Moustakas played at Angel Stadium last July in the All-Star Futures game, along with Hosmer.

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