Kennedy gets first win after pal ends no-no

Kennedy gets first win after pal ends no-no

ANAHEIM -- Royals right-hander Ian Kennedy figured that if he was going to lose a perfect game, it might as well be to a close friend.

Kennedy had retired 17 straight batters before Cliff Pennington of the Angels jumped a 3-1 fastball and launched it into the seats for a home run. Kennedy still hung on and finished with six strong innings in the Royals' 3-1 victory Friday night at Angel Stadium.

Kennedy and Pennington became close friends when they were with the D-backs five years ago and have remained close.

"I know Cliff pretty well," Kennedy said, smiling. "I mean, he's a terrible friend. I told him he's a terrible friend and I was deleting his phone number. Nah, if I was going to give it up, at least it was to a friend."

Pennington said it was extremely challenging trying to hit Kennedy.

"Everything he throws, it looks the same right out of his hand, changeup comes out spinning just like his heater," Pennington said. "His curveball comes out flat, doesn't pop up very much. I don't know. We're trying to figure out what the rest of the league has that we definitely don't.

"We all knew that [the perfect game] was going on, but I was just trying to go up there and get a good pitch to hit, just like every at-bat. He came right at me with a fastball, and I got it pretty good."

Pennington's solo swat

Kennedy suddenly was in a 2-1 game and it got scarier. He surrendered a double to Cameron Maybin, one pitch after he thought he had Maybin struck out.

Then Kennedy walked Kole Calhoun, and Albert Pujols came up with a chance to put the Angels ahead.

"He's one of the best hitters there is," Kennedy said of Pujols. "There's a reason he has 600 homers. I wasn't really going to give in but I had to grind it out. I knew the next hitter, [Yunel] Escobar, was no slouch. [Pujols] swung 3-0, it was probably a ball. Then I executed a pitch away, enough where I got an out."

As Kennedy headed toward the dugout, he began barking at home-plate umpire CB Bucknor.

"I thought I struck out Cam and wound up giving up a double," Kennedy said. "I thought I threw an 0-0 strike to Penny. I mean, [Bucknor] was missing pitches for [the Angels], too. He does that. When I'm out there, I'm competing. I think I threw maybe 15 extra pitches if I had struck out Cam."

But it all worked out for Kennedy, who got his first win since Sept. 11, 2016. Kennedy thought after his last outing -- six innings, four runs to the Padres -- he was close to getting on track.

"[Pitching coach] Dave [Eiland] said it was only a matter of time," Kennedy said. "I thought so, too."

Jeffrey Flanagan has covered the Royals since 1991, and for since 2015. Follow him on Twitter @FlannyMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.