KANSAS CITY, Mo. _ Royals starting pitcher Jakob Junis snatched a baseball out of the air as he watched a different one slice through the rain-thick sky at Kauffman Stadium on Saturday evening.
Angels center fielder Mike Trout had barely begun his trot around the bases, but there was no doubt about the ball he hammered to left field. In a span of 5.5 seconds, it had vanquished the wind, cleared the fence and dumped into the porch above the visitors' bullpen.
The 429-foot blast was the 207th of his career, the sixth of his age-26 season.
And it was the final of three home runs relinquished by Junis on a miserably cold night in which he wobbled on the mound for the first time all month. Instead of ending the Royals' losing streak, Junis allowed his first runs of the season. The Royals lost 5-3.
Mike Moustakas tried to start a Royals rally in the eighth inning, leading off with his third home run of the year. But the Royals (3-10) dropped their fifth game in a row.
In only 18 career starts, Junis had made a reputation for himself as the Royals' stopper _ the pitcher in their rotation who can buck a losing trend. The Royals were 8-2 when he started a game after a Royals loss; he posted a 2.83 ERA in those games.
If the Royals needed to shake off a slump, Junis was their guy. He was that guy in his season debut in Detroit, when he pitched seven-plus scoreless innings and earned the victory in the Royals' first win of the season. And he was that guy Monday, when he took a no-hitter into the seventh inning and gave the Royals their third _ and most recent _ victory.
Without agonizing over the pressure to perform after a Royals loss, Junis thrived. He amassed a 5-1 record and allowed 19 earned runs over 601/3 innings.
But after two perfect innings on Saturday, Junis crumpled.
A Luis Valbuena leadoff homer in the third inning snapped Junis' season-opening scoreless-inning streak at 16. The Angels scored again when Justin Upton took Junis deep to lead off the fourth.
By the time manager Ned Yost removed Junis from the mound in the fifth, he'd allowed four runs on seven hits.
The Royals threatened Angels starting pitcher Garrett Richards' lead in the bottom of the fifth. Richards struggled to find the zone _ he threw three wild pitches and another that hit the dirt and chopped high above the plate where catcher Rene Rivera could save it _ and the Royals drew two walks. Lucas Duda scored on one of the wild pitches. But Alcides Escobar grounded into an inning-ending double play.
The Angels' top-ranked offense went cold as the steady rain at Kauffman Stadium turned into a light snow shower. The Royals bullpen held the Angels to just one unearned run on two hits in 41/3 innings.