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Butler's five RBIs propel Royals to win over Angels

The SportsXchange

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- It was only a matter of time.

The way Kansas City Royals manager Ned Yost saw it, Billy Butler, his struggling designated hitter, wasn't going to continue to struggle much longer. He was just too good to continue the way he was going.

Butler snapped out of his prolonged slump in a big way, collecting five hits and five RBIs as the Royals routed the Los Angeles Angels 11-4 Monday night at Angel Stadium.

"Billy's one of the best hitters I've ever seen," Yost said. "He can hit. If you've been in the game as long as I have, I've seen a lot of really good hitters go into little slumps. Billy's slumps generally are an 0-for-9, 0-for-10, but you also know that any day he's capable of breaking out and really carrying the team for a period of time."

Butler began the night hitting .228 this season and had only four hits in his previous 35 at-bats, but he had four hits before the end of the sixth inning Monday. He had an RBI double in the first, a two-run single in the third, a single in the fifth, a two-run double in the sixth and a single in the eighth, leading the Royals' 19-hit effort.

"I knew I was getting closer," said Butler, who raised his average 33 points to .261. "I've been doing a lot of early work on the field and I'm doing early work on the field tomorrow because it's just one game. I feel the more swings I take before the game, the better I feel in the game."

Twelve of the Royals' hits came off beleaguered Angels starter Joe Blanton, who had his worst start of the season. And that's saying something.

Blanton (0-7) gave up seven runs and the 12 hits in 4 2/3 innings. The Angels have lost all eight of Blanton's starts, and the right-hander has a 6.46 ERA. But Blanton chalked up Monday's loss to bad luck.

"It was one of those weird games," Blanton said. "I feel I had good stuff, but every time they made contact, it was in a hole. There's nothing you can do about that.

"I'm not (frustrated), I feel like I threw the ball well tonight and I thought my stuff was good. There was just a couple innings where one pitch away from getting out of it, a couple two-out hits and that's three or four of those runs."

Royals starter Luis Mendoza (1-2) gave up three runs and six hits in six innings.

"Mendy was pretty darn good tonight," Yost said. "When he missed, he missed down, had a good two-seamer, good sinker, good action to his pitches, and had a good curveball that he kept down in the zone."

Butler wasn't the only Royal to have a big day at the plate. Alcides Escobar, Lorenzo Cain and Salvador Perez each had three hits, and Jarrod Dyson and Alex Gordon chipped in with two apiece.

Josh Hamilton and Alberto Callaspo had two hits each for the Angels, who fell to 14-24, their worst record through 38 games in 25 years. The Angels remained 10 games behind the Texas Rangers in the AL West, but Blanton said the club must continue to move forward.

"That's baseball," he said. "It's a messed up game."

With the win, the Royals (19-16) remained 1 1/2 games behind the first-place Detroit Tigers in the AL Central.

Butler's first- and third-inning hits combined to lift the Royals to a 3-0 lead, the advantage reached 10-1 in the sixth.

Royals pitcher Luke Hochevar relieved Mendoza to start the seventh and gave up one run in three innings, earning his first career big-league save.

NOTES: Angels SS Erick Aybar was not in the starting lineup for the fourth game in a row because of a strained right hamstring. Manager Mike Scioscia said Aybar likely would be back in the lineup Tuesday. ... Royals LF Alex Gordon batted in the third spot for the fifth game in a row. Gordon batted leadoff for the first 30 games, but manager Ned Yost dropped Gordon to third in an effort to add a little pop to the middle of the order. ... Angels INF Brendan Harris started at shortstop Monday for the 17th time this season (19 starts overall, including two at third base). He began the day hitting .242 (16-for-66) as a starter, compared to .429 (3-for-7) off the bench. ... Royals RF Jeff Francoeur did not play. Dyson started in Francoeur's place, playing center field and moving Cain to right field.
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