Three unearned runs and an outstanding outing from Dennis Leonard led the Royals to a 7-2 win over the Angels on a Thursday night at Anaheim Stadium.
Leonard improved to 18-9 on the season with his seventh complete game of the year. He struck out six, walked three, and held California to four hits.
After leaving two runners on in the first inning, the Royals seemed poised to waste U L Washington’s leadoff single in the third. Two groundouts had moved Washington to third, but Hal McRae hit a grounder to shortstop Dickie Thon, who mishandled it. McRae was safe on the error, with Washington scoring the first run of the game. Next, Willie Aikens pounded his 17th home run of the year; that made three in five games for the first baseman.
Leonard faltered briefly in the fourth, as he walked Rod Carew with one out. Jason Thompson followed with a home run to cut the Royals’ lead to 3-2.
But the Royals extended their lead in the sixth. Angels starter Bob Ferris walked the bases loaded to start the inning, although he did mix in a fly out. Reliever Dave Schuler took over for Ferris, but Jose Cardenal hit a sacrifice fly for one run and Jamie Quirk singled to score another for a 5-2 lead.
Willie Wilson and Frank White teamed up to give the Royals single runs in the seventh and ninth to put the game out of reach. Facing new Angels pitcher Chris Knapp, Wilson singled to start the seventh. He then stole second and moved to third when catcher Dave Skaggs’ throw went into center field. White then singled to pick up the RBI. In the ninth, Wilson greeted Ed Halicki with a leadoff triple and scored when White hit a grounder to third that was misplayed by Carney Lansford. White was credited with a single but no RBI on the play, but the Royals still had a 7-2 lead.
Leonard allowed just two hits and a walk after the Thompson home run, working around an error in the eighth and a walk in the ninth to help the Royals end a three-game losing streak.
The win lifted the Royals to 88-53 and allowed Kansas City to avoid a rather embarrassing sweep in the four-game series; California entered the series 34 games behind the Royals and in sixth place in the AL West. The Royals also increased their division lead to 18 games and dropped their magic number to win the division to five.
George Brett watch: Brett missed another game, his fifth, with his injured right hand. He received a cortisone shot during the game but was still considered day-to-day. Season stats: .396/.463/.668
Box score and play-by-play: https://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/CAL/CAL198009110.shtml
Today’s birthdays: Jackie Hernandez (1940), Don Slaught (1958), Mike Moustakas (1988)