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Angels' high-priced stars produce in win

The SportsXchange

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- The Los Angeles Angels finally showed up. At least, it was what so many expected to see from the Angels this season.

Albert Pujols, Howie Kendrick, Josh Hamilton and Mike Trout each hit a solo home run and Jason Vargas pitched seven strong innings as the Angels beat the Kansas City Royals 6-2 on Tuesday night at Angel Stadium.

The game marked the first time this season that both Pujols and Hamilton homered in the same game, but Hamilton said the Angels' success this year depends on more than just those two, who will be paid $365 million over the length of their contracts.

"It's not just us, I think it's three or four guys," Hamilton said. "You think about Howie, you think about Trout, you think about (Mark) Trumbo. If guys at the top of the lineup aren't getting it done, you have guys at the bottom of the lineup, and vice versa. That's what good teams do. If somebody goes down, somebody steps in."

Considering his slow start, Hamilton is long overdue to carry his share of the load. He said he's feeling better at the plate, and he's also hoping that a new medication to combat a lingering sinus problem will help him feel better, period. He had to leave Monday's game because he felt lightheaded, and Tuesday he was the designated hitter.

Hamilton and his Angels teammates not only beat the Royals Tuesday, but they also beat Royals pitcher Jeremy Guthrie, which was no small feat. Guthrie had made 18 consecutive starts without a loss before the Angels finally got him Tuesday. Guthrie's last loss came Aug. 3, 2012, against the Rangers. Since then, he had been 10-0 with a 2.21 ERA.

"They've got some guys that have some tremendous pop over there," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "They weren't horrible pitches. They were pitches that maybe caught a little too much of the plate that were down, but Pujols, Hamilton, Trout, they're all guys that have tremendous power."

Pujols (2-for-4) and Kendrick (3-for-4) hit their home runs in the fourth inning to give the Angels a 2-1 lead, a lead they kept for good. Hamilton blasted a home run in the sixth and Trout added his homer in the seventh. Trout also had a sacrifice fly.

That was plenty for Vargas, whose last start at the Big A was a three-hit shutout over the Baltimore Orioles. On Tuesday, Vargas gave up an RBI double in the fourth and a solo home run in the sixth, both to the suddenly hot Billy Butler. Butler, who was in a 4-for-35 slump going into the series, is 7-for-9 with seven RBI in the last two games.

"He commands the ball really well," Yost said of Vargas. "He throws fastballs in and changeups away. He really commands his changeup well down and away, so he keeps us off-balance."

Vargas (2-3) went seven-plus innings, allowing two runs and five hits, striking out seven and walking only one -- the last batter he faced starting the eighth inning.

"I'm trying to go out there every time and keep my team in the ballgame, be consistent and execute," Vargas said. "I was just able to go back and forth tonight, incorporate the breaking ball and kind of give them a different look. It worked for us, but we're still trying to figure out how to get Butler out."

Guthrie (5-1) gave up five runs and 11 hits in seven innings.

"Eighteen (starts) without a loss," Yost said of Guthrie's streak. "Now we just start a new streak for him."

NOTES: Hamilton left Monday's game after six innings because of what manager Mike Scioscia called "lightheadedness." Hamilton said he has just been sick for the past week or so, possibly related to a sinus problem. Hamilton plans to visit an allergist. He said similar symptoms worsened when he came to Southern California with the Texas Rangers to play against the Angels. ... Angels SS Erick Aybar was back in the starting lineup Tuesday against the Royals after missing the previous four games with a tight right hamstring. Aybar had an 11-game hitting streak before going 0-for-3 on the day of the injury (May 9). ... Royals LF Alex Gordon leads the majors with 18 multi-hit games. Going into Tuesday's game, Gordon was hitting .400 (8-for-20) in five games since being moved from the leadoff spot to No. 3 in the order. ... The Royals scored 11 runs without a walk or a home run in Monday's game against the Angels, marking the first time any team has scored that many runs without a walk or homer since the Tigers did it on Sept. 22, 1941.
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