“I’ve been playing with him the last three years, so it’s no surprise to me that he’s ready for whatever the Angels need from him,” Los Angeles second baseman Chone Figgins said. “He has good stuff. He tries to keep himself under control, he knows what he wants to do and he doesn’t try to do too much.”
The right-hander, effective starting and relieving, escaped a bases-loaded jam in the second by striking out four-time All-Star Mike Sweeney to keep the score tied at 1.
“It was a pivotal situation in the game,” Gregg said. “They had bases loaded and their best hitter at the plate. It’s not exactly a situation you want to be in, but I got through it and I was able to get a punchout when I needed it. I battled out there and gave our offense a chance to get started.”
Gregg is 3-0 with a 2.16 ERA in his four big-league starts. As a reliever, he is 5-2 with a 4.58 ERA in 57 appearances.
“Fortunately I’ve had success at both, but right now we have five guys to put out there, and we’re going to win a lot of ballgames with them,” he said.
Jose Lima (0-2) failed to get through the fourth inning for the second time in two outings since rejoining the Royals as a free agent in December. The right-hander threw 84 pitches in just 3 2-3 innings, allowing seven runs— three earned—and eight hits over 3 2-3 innings. Last Monday at Detroit, Lima gave up five runs over three innings in his first career opening-day start.
Lima needed 32 pitches to get out of the first inning. He gave up singles to Darin Erstad and Guerrero, then walked Steve Finley and Orlando Cabrera with two out to force in a run. But he minimized the damage by getting Molina to ground into a force at third and strand three.
“The first inning took a lot out of me, but I made some good pitches,” Lima said. “Things aren’t going my way right now. I’m not having fun right now. I’ve got a lot of stuff in my head. That’s not Jose Lima out there. I’m trying to get 27 outs on one pitch. But I’ve been down this road before and I’ve bounced back.”
Figgins snapped a 1-1 tie in the second inning with a sacrifice fly after a leadoff triple by rookie Maicer Izturis.
The Angels increased their lead to 7-1 with five runs in the third, helped by an error by Royals second baseman Ruben Gotay. After Gotay took a throw from third baseman Tony Graffanino on a potential fielder’s choice grounder by Izturis, he failed to make contact with the bag before making a late relay throw to first base.
“We should have gotten out of that inning, but I’m not pointing fingers,” Lima said. “I should have backed him up and made some pitches to get out of that inning. I’ve got the ball in my hand, so I’ll take all the blame. I always do. I never make excuses.”
Figgins and Erstad followed with RBI singles, Guerrero drove in two more runs with a two-out single and Garret Anderson chased Lima with a two-run double over the head of center fielder David DeJesus.
“In any sport, you take advantage of mistakes. And we took advantage of theirs,” Figgins said. “Lima was throwing some tough pitches, but we just battled, had some good at-bats and put the ball in play.”
The Royals tied it in the second when DeJesus struck out on a pitch in the dirt and made it to first as the ball squirted between Molina’s legs. Terence Long, who scored from third on the play, led off the inning with a double and advanced on Gotay’s sacrifice bunt.
Molina led off the eighth against Shawn Camp with his second home run.
The bases-loaded walk represented the first RBI this season for Cabrera, who signed a 4-year, $32 million contract with the Angels after helping Boston win the World Series. … Anderson is 8-for-14 lifetime against Lima. … Angels relievers Esteban Yan and Bret Prinz did not allow a hit over the last four innings.