KANSAS CITY, Mo. —Aaron Crow's first day as the Royals' new closer passed easily enough.
He wasn't needed.
The Royals backed a strong outing from Jeff Francis by mounting an opportunistic attack Tuesday night that produced a 7-3 victory over the Los Angeles Angels at Kauffman Stadium.
"It seems like every game lately," left fielder Alex Gordon said, "it's been one run or, somehow, the winning run or tying run is on second."
Not this time.
The Royals erased an early 2-0 deficit by scoring five times in the third inning after Angels starter Joel Pineiro made a throwing error on a potential double-play grounder. A couple of add-on runs kept the Angels at arm's length.
"We needed a break," right fielder Jeff Francoeur said. "When Pineiro threw that ball away, it kind of gave us some life."
Francis (2-5) survived a shaky first inning — two runs and 35 pitches — by allowing just one more run while pitching through the seventh. It was his eighth quality start in 12 outings, and the fourth in his last five starts.
"There's a lot (of experience) that goes into realizing that two runs is not a huge lead," Francis said. "Our guys can swing the bat. And they showed it. They capitalized on a break the other team made."
Blake Wood closed out the victory by retiring six straight over the final two innings after beginning the eighth with a walk. It was his fifth straight scoreless appearance and lowered his ERA to 2.78.
No save situation delayed Crow's first test as the interim replacement — the Royals hope — for a puzzlingly ineffective Joakim Soria, who surrendered his job after blowing four saves in his last five chances.
Gordon and Chris Getz each had three hits, although none of Getz's left the infield. Even so, Getz is batting .424 (14 for 33) in his last nine games. Eric Hosmer and Francoeur each had two RBIs. Hosmer has 10 RBIs in his last five games.
The Royals won for just the fourth time in their last 17 games and reached the season's one-third mark at 24-30.
The hopeful view, expressed by several players, is Tuesday's victory could be a springboard after crushing losses Sunday and Monday when Soria failed to hold ninth-inning leads.
"We've had two tough ones," Francoeur said. "One thing you can say about this team is we come ready to play every day. That's the attitude we're trying to establish here, that losing is not acceptable.
"Even though we should have won the last two, we came back ready to play and, hopefully, we can win the series (today)."
The game turned on Pineiro's error, which occurred after Getz's one-out bunt single. Alcides Escobar hit a hopper back to the mound, and Pineiro threw the ball into center field.
Instead of the inning being over, the Royals had runners at first and third with one out.
"The ball kind of stuck to my hand," Pineiro explained, "and I threw a sinker to second."
Gordon sent a blooper into center for an RBI single, and Melky Cabrera followed with a grounder through the right side for another RBI single. Hosmer then ripped a two-run double into the left-center gap for a 4-2 lead.
Billy Butler's two-out RBI added another run, and Francis responded with his best inning — retiring three straight batters on 10 pitches. Francis followed that with a 13-pitch fifth inning.
"When they turned the game into our favor," Francis said, "it was up to me to go out and shut them down. Fortunately, I was able to do that."
Pineiro (2-2) is now winless in six career games, including four starts, at Kauffman Stadium. He gave up six runs overall in six innings and is 0-4 with an 8.33 ERA at the K.
"That inning totally changes obviously on the ball back to JP," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "He's a good fielder, and it's an easy 1-6-3 (pitcher-short-first double play). He just threw it into center field."
The Royals added another run in the fifth after Hosmer looped a two-out single to right. Hosmer stole second when Pineiro bounced a pitch past catcher Jeff Mathis. Francoeur produced the run with a single up the middle.
Pineiro only escaped further damage when Torii Hunter made a diving catch on Butler's slicing drive to right.
LA got one run back in the sixth after Peter Bourjos led off with a bunt single and stole second. He moved to third on Bobby Wilson's fly into the left-center gap before Mathis rammed an RBI double over Gordon's head in left.
But the Royals regained a four-run lead by scoring an unearned run in the seventh against Hisanori Takahashi after Hosmer's grounder scooted through first baseman Mark Trumbo for a two-base error.
"We started this year off really well," Francis said. "We feel like we can play like that a lot. When you hit a little rough skid, it's hard to come here and act like you're going to win every day.
"I think there are a lot of guys in this room who do that really well. That's going to make this team better in the long run."