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Royals' bats can't back Kennedy in defeat

MLB.com @FlannyMLB

KANSAS CITY -- Right-hander Ian Kennedy turned in yet another superb performance, tossing six innings of one-run ball.

But the meager Royals' offense, which has been held to three runs or less in nine of their first 11 games this season, couldn't solve Angels starter Nick Tropeano, as Kansas City fell, 7-1, to Los Angeles on Thursday night at Kauffman Stadium.

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KANSAS CITY -- Right-hander Ian Kennedy turned in yet another superb performance, tossing six innings of one-run ball.

But the meager Royals' offense, which has been held to three runs or less in nine of their first 11 games this season, couldn't solve Angels starter Nick Tropeano, as Kansas City fell, 7-1, to Los Angeles on Thursday night at Kauffman Stadium.

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Kennedy gave up a leadoff home run to Ian Kinsler in the first -- Kinsler's 47th career leadoff homer, moving him into fourth place all-time. But Kennedy shut out the Angels after that, giving up seven total hits and two walks while striking out three. Kennedy owns a 1.00 ERA through three starts, all of which have lasted six innings, this season.

"Definitely a mistake to Kinsler," Kennedy said. "First pitch was fastball down. Second one leaked right over the middle of the plate."

Overall, Kennedy was pleased with his effort on a night he didn't think he had his best stuff.

"I felt it was a little bit of a grind," Kennedy said. "But they're a tough lineup. I mean, you have [Mike] Trout hitting second, [Justin] Upton, [Albert] Pujols. It's tough, but I got what I needed out of some tough situations."

The game got away from the Royals in the seventh when reliever Blaine Boyer was charged with five earned runs -- three of those came when Brandon Maurer relieved Boyer and gave up a bases-clearing triple to Shohei Ohtani.

Boyer (23.14 ERA through five appearances) and Maurer (12.46 ERA through five appearances) are both off to rough starts, but Royals manager Ned Yost said he needs those veteran relievers to establish their roles in the bullpen.

"We're still trying to give opportunities," Yost said. "Tonight was a great opportunity, a 1-0 ballgame, and to stay with Blaine in that situation, second and third and two out … my mindset was I wasn't going to use Tim Hill with us behind again [because] we used him yesterday. [Justin] Grimm was available if we had a lead, [but Brad] Keller was not.

"It came down to those two guys [Boyer and Maurer] that we counted on in the beginning of the year and do count on now to get us through the seventh and eighth innings. Today was a struggle for them to do it."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Soler hangs on: Royals right fielder Jorge Soler made a fine running catch to rob the Angels of perhaps two runs in the third inning. With runners on first and third, Albert Pujols sent a liner into the right-field corner. The hit probability, per Statcast™, was only 23 percent, but the degree of difficulty was there because Soler collided hard with the padding on the right-field wall, went to the ground and managed to hang on for the third out.

Video: LAA@KC: Soler makes a tough grab, slams into wall

Tough luck: The Royals had an excellent chance to bust out of their offensive slump in the fourth inning when Lucas Duda led off with a single. With one out, Duda hustled to third on another single to right by Abraham Almonte. Ryan Goins followed with a shot toward left field (94.9 mph, per Statcast™) that was snagged out of the air by Angels third baseman Luis Valbuena, who then threw across the diamond to Pujols at first to double up Almonte.

"I thought we hit some balls hard," Royals designated hitter Whit Merrifield said. "We had that first and third and [Goins] hit that liner -- if that's a foot either way, it changes the complexion of the game."

Video: LAA@KC: Valbuena starts nice 5-3 double play

HE SAID IT
"Not going to really reveal what our plan was, but I was executing some good pitches." -- Kennedy, on getting Ohtani to go 0-for-2 against him

UP NEXT
Royals right-hander Jason Hammel (0-1, 4.09 ERA) takes the mound in game two of the series against the Angels on Friday night at 7:15 p.m. CT at Kauffman Stadium. Hammel tossed six shutout innings Sunday in a 3-1 loss to the Indians. He will be opposed by Angels left-hander Andrew Heaney, who will be making his regular-season debut.

Jeffrey Flanagan has covered the Royals since 1991, and for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter @FlannyMLB.

Kansas City Royals, Ian Kennedy