ANAHEIM -- Ian Kinsler and Justin Upton homered to power the Angels to a 4-3 win over the Royals on Wednesday night at Angel Stadium, completing a three-game sweep and ameliorating some of the sting of a truncated start from Shohei Ohtani, who was forced to depart after four innings
ANAHEIM -- Ian Kinsler and Justin Upton homered to power the Angels to a 4-3 win over the Royals on Wednesday night at Angel Stadium, completing a three-game sweep and ameliorating some of the sting of a truncated start from Shohei Ohtani, who was forced to depart after four innings because of a blister on his right middle finger.
Kinsler launched a two-run home run to left field off Royals reliever Scott Barlow to snap a 1-1 tie in the sixth inning, and Upton added a solo shot off Barlow in the seventh to extend the Angels' winning streak to four games. Kinsler is now hitting .341 (14-for-41) with four home runs, four doubles and eight RBIs over his last 10 games, a stretch that has lifted his batting average from .178 to .212.
"I'm trying to help the team any way I can," Kinsler said. "It was a long stretch of frustration and not being able to help the team. Anytime you can get back into a place where you're making things happen, it's a good place."
The Angels took a 4-1 lead into the eighth, but the Royals scored two runs off rookie reliever Justin Anderson to pull within one. After Mike Moustakas and Salvador Perez drew back-to-back walks, Anderson uncorked a wild pitch during an at-bat by Alex Gordon, allowing the runners to advance to second and third. Moustakas was originally called out at third for the final out of the inning, but the call was overturned following a replay review.
Gordon then made the most of the reprieve, shooting a single just past an outstretched Kinsler to drive in two runs and narrow the deficit to 4-3. After Hunter Dozier singled to put runners on the corners, manager Mike Scioscia decided to pull the plug on Anderson and bring in Richard Parker, who struck out Ryan Goins to end the inning.
Parker returned to the mound for the ninth and posted a scoreless inning to convert a four-out save. The Angels are now 35-28 after completing a 5-1 homestand against the Rangers and Royals.
"Blake Parker did a great job," Scioscia said. "Justin just a little problem putting some guys away with his command, but all those guys threw the ball well."
Still, Ohtani's early exit cast a shadow over the victory. The two-way phenom came out to warm up for the fifth inning and everything seemed normal, but catcher Martin Maldonado then motioned toward the dugout for trainer Eric Munson and Scioscia. After a brief mound conference, Ohtani walked off the field with Munson and headed straight to the clubhouse. Veteran reliever Jim Johnson entered the game to replace Ohtani.
"Normally he throws a lot of curveballs," Maldonado said. "He threw a lot of fastballs when he was warming up, so I thought something was different with him."
Ohtani allowed one run on four hits while walking three and striking out four over four innings. It marked the second-shortest outing of the season for Ohtani, who exited his start against the Red Sox on April 17 with a blister on the same finger. Scioscia said Ohtani's blister is not as severe as his last one, though the Angels will have to wait before determining whether the malady will impact his next pitching appearance.
• Ohtani exits early with finger blister
Before the injury, Ohtani managed to work through a few jams and minimize damage. In the first, he gave up a leadoff single to Whit Merrifield and walked Moustakas to put runners on first and second with one out, but coaxed a 1-4-3 double play from Perez to emerge from the inning unscathed.
Jorge Soler then opened the second with a ground-rule double to left field, but Ohtani retired the next three batters to strand the runner. The Royals got on the board in the fourth, when Moustakas singled, advanced to second on a passed ball by Maldonado and scored on Gordon's two-out single to center field.
Ohtani then issued back-to-back walks to Dozier and Goins to load the bases, but he extricated himself from further trouble by striking out Abraham Almonte swinging on a splitter.
The Angels' offense endured their own share of frustration against Royals right-hander Ian Kennedy, who held them to one run on seven hits over five innings. The Angels squandered several early scoring opportunities and were blanked through the first four innings before Kinsler and Zack Cozart delivered back-to-back singles in the fifth to tie the game, 1-1.
The Angels finished 3-for-10 with runners in scoring position and left 10 men on base, but they received just enough offense from Kinsler and Upton's homers to improve to 6-0 against the Royals this season.
"As long as you keep giving yourself those opportunities, eventually you feel like you're able to get it done in some of those situations," Upton said. "It's just baseball. The last few days we've been able to get ourselves in certain situations. Last night we were only able to scratch across one run -- that's all we needed. Just got to keep grinding, getting baserunners and seeing what we can do with runners in scoring position."
The Angels will head to Minnesota and enjoy an off-day on Thursday before opening a three-game series against the Twins on Friday at 5:10 p.m. PT at Target Field. Right-hander Garrett Richards (4-4, 3.25 ERA) will duel righty Lance Lynn (4-4, 5.46 ERA) in the series opener. Richards took a no-decision in last start on Saturday despite allowing one unearned run over a season-high seven innings against the Rangers. He is 1-3 with a 1.89 ERA and 32 strikeouts over his last six outings.
Maria Guardado covers the Angels for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.