ANAHEIM, Calif. — Billy Butler broke out of a severe slump with five hits and five RBIs, and the Kansas City Royals kept Joe Blanton winless in eight starts this season with an 11-4 victory over the Los Angeles Angels on Monday night.
Butler's hit total tied his career high, established on July 27, 2009, at Baltimore. The designated hitter has three games with five or more RBIs in the majors – including a franchise record-tying seven on April 7 at Philadelphia, when he hit his first career grand slam. He began the day in a 4-for-35 rut with a .228 average and one RBI in 23 at-bats over his previous six games.
Luis Mendoza (1-2) allowed three runs and six hits over six innings, striking out six and walking none as the Royals began a nine-game road trip following a three-game sweep by the New York Yankees. The right-hander was staked to a 10-1 lead and took a three-hitter into the sixth before giving up a pair of runs.
Luke Hochevar pitched three innings for his first save in seven big league seasons.
Blanton (0-7) threw 99 pitches through 4 2-3 innings, giving up seven runs and 12 hits with seven strikeouts and no walks. The right-hander, whose ERA shot up to 6.46, has allowed 10 or more hits in three of his last seven outings.
It's the first time in the Angels' 53-year history that they have been on the losing end in all of a pitcher's first eight starts of a season. The last time one of their pitchers was winless in his first eight starts was in 1997, when lefty Matt Perisho started eight times that season as a rookie and was 0-2. The Angels were 4-4 in those games.
Kansas City opened the scoring in the first when Alex Gordon singled with two outs and came all the way around on Butler's double off the right-field wall. Two innings later, Butler drove in two more with a two-out single.
The Angels got on the board in the third with an RBI single by Chris Iannetta, who had one hit in his previous 27 at-bats. But the Royals increased the margin to 4-1 in the fourth with Jarrod Dyson's two-out RBI double, and they tacked on three more in the fifth with an RBI single by Lorenzo Cain and a two-run double by No. 8 hitter Salvador Perez that chased Blanton.
Even the Angels' improving bullpen couldn't contain Butler, whose two-run double highlighted a three-run sixth against rookie Michael Roth and gave the Royals a 10-1 cushion. The hit increased his RBI total to 25 and snapped a string of scoreless innings by Angels relievers.
NOTES: Butler, who was an All-Star for the first time last season, was moved into the cleanup spot five games ago after batting third most of the season. ... Blanton struck out the side on 16 pitches in the second, his only 1-2-3 inning. The only time this season that he has left a game with a lead was April 22 against Texas, when the bullpen blew a 6-3 advantage and he ended up with a six-inning no-decision. ... Royals RHP Ervin Santana, who spent his eight previous major league seasons with the Angels and threw a no-hitter for them in 2011, won't face them in this series because he pitched on Sunday. His next victory will be his 100th in the majors. ... Kansas City RF Jeff Francoeur, 3 for 24 with no RBIs in his last seven games, did not start despite the fact that he is 6 for 14 against Blanton.. ... Kansas City's five double were a season high. ... The Royals haven't been more than two games out of first place in the AL Central through their first 35 contests. Last season they finished 16 games off the pace. ... The entire seven-game season series will take place this month, including a four-game set at Kansas City starting May 23.