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Royals still searching for offense in 5-3 loss to Angels

ANAHEIM, Calif. | The Royals keep waiting for one of those games where their hitters pick up what has been the league’s best pitching staff. A game where they simply outslug an opponent.

They’re still waiting after Thursday’s 5-3 loss to the Los Angeles Angels.

The Royals still haven’t scored more than six runs in a game _ and they’ve done that only once. Their 55 runs in 16 games averages to about 3.4 per game.

That leaves little margin for error in the run-happy American League.

This was a case in point: Right-hander Brett Tomko had two bad innings in seven Thursday against the Angels. Otherwise, he was dominant.

Tomko faced just 16 batters, one over the minimum, in his other five innings. He gave up six hits, struck out three and walked one.

Two bad innings were more than enough, though, to send him to his second loss in three decisions.

Garret Anderson provided the game’s key blow, a three-run double with two outs in the third. Successive doubles by Jeff Mathis and Erick Aybar started the two-run fifth.

The Royals finished with 11 hits, three more than the Angels, but 10 were singles, and they stranded five runners over the final three innings.

Angels starter Jon Garland, 2-2, was a long-time nemesis to the Royals in compiling a 16-6 record in eight years with the White Sox. Not much has changed.

Garland yielded just two runs and seven hits in 6 1/3 innings before handing a 5-2 lead to the bullpen. Justin Speier, Scot Shields and Francisco Rodriguez closed out the victory.

Rodriguez yielded one run and three hits in the ninth before securing his sixth save in seven chances.

The loss forced the Royals to settle for a split in their two-game series and ended a streak of six straight victories over the Angels. The Royals, 9-7, also missed a chance to jump past Chicago, 9-6, for first place in the American League Central Division.

The Royals also lost center fielder David DeJesus, again, because of an injury. This time it was a jammed left big toe. DeJesus suffered the injury before the game while running into a wall but started and played 3½ innings.

DeJesus was one for two with an RBI single before exiting. He missed 11 games after aggravating a sprained left ankle March 31 in the season opener in Detroit.

The Angels played without right fielder Vladimir Guerrero, who suffered a bruised right index finger in Wednesday’s game.

The Royals scored first for the 12th time in their 16 games. John Buck opened the third inning with a walk and went to second on Tony Peña’s hit-and-run grounder to second.

DeJesus followed with an RBI single up the middle.

The lead didn’t survive the LA third.

Two hits and a walk loaded the bases for Anderson, who whacked a 1-2 pitch into the right-center gap for a three-run double.

The Royals answered with one run in the fourth on José Guillen’s RBI double, his fourth straight game with a double, but squandered the chance for more after putting runners at first and third with one out.

Ross Gload hit a foul pop to third, and Alex Gordon was thrown out while trying to steal second.

Tomko surrendered two more runs in the fifth. Mathis and Aybar opened the inning with back-to-back doubles for the first run. Aybar went to third on a grounder to first before scoring on Gary Matthews Jr.s’ grounder to second against a drawn-in infield.

Aybar beat the throw from Mark Grudzielanek and eluded Buck’s swipe tag for a 5-2 lead.

The Royals chased Garland in the seventh with a pair of one-out singles. They loaded the bases with a two-out single by Joey Gathright against Speier, but Grudzielanek stranded all three by hitting a routine grounder to third.

To reach Bob Dutton, Royals reporter for The Star, call (816) 234-4352 or send email to bdutton@kcstar.com.

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