It was better late than never for the Royals, who scored all their runs in the final two innings for a 3-1 win over the Angels on Tuesday night at Anaheim Stadium.
California starter Frank Tanana no-hit the Royals for four innings and had only allowed two hits when the eighth inning began. Tanana was seeking to win his 12th game of the year, which would give him the major-league lead, and was clinging to a 1-0 lead. John Mayberry led off the eighth with a single, and Dave Nelson entered as a pinch runner. Amos Otis brought Nelson home with a triple, and Buck Martinez doubled to give the Royals the lead. Martinez reached third on a sacrifice bunt, then was thrown out trying to steal home, and the inning ended with Kansas City ahead, 2-1.
The Royals added an insurance run when Hal McRae hit his ninth homer of the season with two outs in the ninth. Kansas City got two runners on after that, but Tanana ended the ninth with his seventh strikeout of the evening, getting Otis to end the threat.
It was a good thing the Royals got those runs, because it would have been a shame to waste starter Dennis Leonard’s outing. Leonard held the Angels to two hits and no walks while striking out six. Tony Solaita singled to start the second, so there was no drama about a no-hitter, but Leonard got a double play to end that inning, meaning he faced the minimum through five innings.
That changed when Rusty Torres hit a home run, his first of the year, leading off the sixth. But Leonard retired the next 12 hitters to earn his sixth win of the season. With a complete-game shutout in his previous start, Leonard had shaved half of a run off his ERA, going from 4.29 to 3.73.
The win lifted the Royals to 38-34 on the season. They stayed in third place in the AL West, 3.5 games behind Minnesota.
Box score and play-by-play:
1977 news: With the first anniversary of his first shooting approaching, New York City added even more police officers to the hunt for the “Son of Sam” killer. New York now had 60 officers working full-time to find the man who had shot 11 people, killing five, since July 29, 1976. “Son of Sam” had recently sent a letter to New York Post columnist Jimmy Breslin with a reference to the upcoming anniversary, and had also shot two more people on June 26.