KANSAS CITY -- No runs -- again -- for Zack Greinke. And no victory for him or the Royals. The Royals finally did get started turning zeroes into crooked numbers after both Greinke and Los Angeles starter Jered Weaver left the game, but it all came too late. The Angels emerged with a 5-4 victory on Thursday afternoon at Kauffman Stadium. The Angels won the four-game series, 3-1, and moved back to the .500 mark for the first time in more than a month. The Royals lost for the fifth time in six games and fell 11 games below .500.
The Kansas City turn on numbers just isn't very pleasant. Greinke now holds a 1-7 record, the first American League pitcher to reach seven losses. Last year, in his Cy Young odyssey, he was 7-1 in his first eight decisions. And he's trying to figure out what's so different this year. "The last month, I haven't really been myself I guess," Greinke said. "Everything looks tougher. Like the hitters look better and the strike zone looks smaller and it just seems tougher out there at the moment." Against the Angels, Greinke surrendered a season-high 10 hits and left trailing, 4-0. It was the third straight game in which the Royals went scoreless while he was pitching. On this day, considering how he pitched through the sunshine for the 13,621 fans, the right-hander wasn't buying into the no-runs angle. "I mean, I got us in a bunch of trouble today and really today's not that story. There are some games that you could say that, but not today really," Greinke said. Maybe not. His command was a bit off, and his pitch count jumped to 116 over his six innings. The most stinging blow came on Torii Hunter's two-run homer -- a 414-foot dunker into the left-field waterfall -- which gave the Angels a 3-0 lead in the fifth. "I pretty much didn't want to throw him a strike with offspeed today, and I did," Greinke said. "It wasn't like a complete hanging breaking ball, but it was enough." The Angels' fourth run off Greinke really shouldn't have happened. The bases were loaded with one out and Howard Kendrick hit a bouncer to third baseman Alberto Callaspo, who elected to step on third for a forceout and throw home. Bad choice because catcher Jason Kendall was screened by incoming runner Kevin Frandsen and didn't see that Callaspo had stepped on third base, eliminating the forceout. So he didn't attempt to tag Frandsen as he crossed the plate, though he received the ball in plenty of time. "We should've been out of the bases-loaded thing," said Royals manager Ned Yost. Yost thought Callaspo should have stepped on third for the forceout and thrown to first base to try for a double play. "Most of the time they'll hit third and go to first, and I think when Jason saw him coming home -- he was blocked out by the runner -- he assumed it was a force play," Yost said. Greinke had the misfortune of being matched against Weaver, the long and lanky right-hander who bamboozled the Royals for seven scoreless innings. "Greinke, he's always nasty," Hunter said. "He's always facing another No. 1 starter, and I don't think he's been getting the run support. It's pretty hard for him, but he's nasty. He throws a cutter, throws 99 miles per hour and throws a two-seamer that's 96 miles per hour. This guy is filthy." So was Weaver, who gave up just four hits and notched nine strikeouts. Finally, after Weaver left, the Angels' bullpen sprung leaks. Kevin Jepsen let in two runs in the eighth inning and closer Brian Fuentes gave up two more in the ninth. In between, however, the Angels got a ninth-inning run off rookie Blake Wood for a 5-2 lead. So when pinch-hitter Willie Bloomquist lofted a two-run homer off Fuentes, it still left the Royals a run short. It was the first pinch-hit homer of Bloomquist's career, just the 68th in franchise history and the first since Brayan Pena's of last Aug. 21 against Minnesota. "It's the old saying, 'When you pinch-hit, be ready to go and hack at the first thing that's good,'" Bloomquist said. He belted a 1-1 pitch over the left-field wall to bring the crowd to life. But Fuentes, despite a walk to pinch-hitter Mike Aviles, managed to shut the door. And Greinke had no runs and another loss. "It seems like our offense has something against Zack and we don't want to score any runs for him," Scott Podsednik said. But Podsednik cautioned about dwelling on that, fearing it'd become ingrained in the hitters' heads and start to have even more of an effect when Greinke takes the mound. For his part, Greinke still believes there are better days ahead. "Probably just a lucky game or so and you start feeling better," he said. "It just hasn't been as good as it used to be." Not by a long shot.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.