Wright lets down Davies as Royals fall
Reliever gives up three in seventh; Olivo robbed of homer
ANAHEIM -- The Royals were swept right out of first place on Sunday. Not by much, but they're in second place.
A crucial throwing by pitcher Jamey Wright led to a 4-3 defeat for the Royals and a three-game sweep for the Angels in front of a sellout crowd of 43,646. It's the Royals' longest skid this season right on the heels of their longest winning streak, six games.
It also was the first series sweep dealt against the 18-14 Royals this season and dropped them .004 percentage points behind the 17-13 Tigers. In terms of games behind, however, they are even. The Angels are just one-half game behind Texas in the AL West.
"This goes into the category of giving one away, because that's exactly what we did today," Royals manager Trey Hillman said. "A lot of things happened, obviously, from the seventh inning on. We put ourselves in a position to win the ballgame and if we'd have been more fundamentally sound defensively and aware, we'd have won that game."
But nothing went right in the last three innings. Miguel Olivo led off the Royals' ninth by walloping closer Brian Fuentes' pitch over the center-field wall. Except that Torii Hunter's glove also went over the wall and caught the ball.
Did Olivo think he had the score-tying homer?
"You're telling me," Olivo said. "That is out. He just took it away. There's nothing I can do. That's why he's good over there. That's why he's making so much money."
Hunter was shading Olivo to right-center field and had to sprint full-tilt about 150 feet to reach the wall.
"It takes timing, instincts," said Hunter. "Man, that felt awesome. If I don't catch that ball, it's 4-4."
When you've done it as many times as Hunter, something just clicks.
"Don't get too close to the wall or too far from the wall," Hunter said, "and you've got to time it perfect. It's just something I do. It's instinctual."
As the sun broke through over Angel Stadium, the Royals gave starter Kyle Davies a 3-0 lead over Angels right-hander Shane Loux.
Coco Crisp singled in the second, stole his eighth base and scored as Mark Teahen drilled a double into the left-field corner. In the fourth, Billy Butler got a reprieve when second baseman Howard Kendrick couldn't catch his foul ball well behind first base. Butler doubled to the left-field wall and rambled home as Alberto Callaspo tripled to right-center field. Olivo followed with an RBI single.
The only run against Davies came in the fourth. Gary Matthews Jr. led off with a single and later scored on Kendry Morales' sacrifice fly. Davies left after Morales led off the seventh with a single and was relieved by Wright.
Morales was thrown out trying to steal but Wright walked Mike Napoli and then made a game-changing error. Grabbing Kendrick's comebacker, Wright whirled to go for a double play but heaved the ball into center field.
"I've made that play so many times," Wright said. "The worst part is I looked back there and saw I had all the time in the world and right when I saw that, I didn't even move my feet again. I just fired it and launched it into center field."
The error put runners at second and third and both scored as Jeff Mathis lined a single to right field for a 3-3 tie.
"We lost that game because of me," Wright said. "That's my fault, that's my loss. If I make that play, we're probably in here celebrating a win. . . . That one's straight on my shoulders."
Hillman, however, thought there was a second error, uncharged, that inning by catcher Olivo. As Kendrick came home with the second run on Mathis' hit, right fielder Jose Guillen fired to home plate.
"Jose threw a laser to home plate and it did not bounce and you've got to catch that ball and the guy's going to be out, he's clearly going to be out," Hillman said.
Olivo agreed he could have made the tag but turned too soon and lost the ball.
"I tried to tag him first. I thought I had the ball and I tried to tag him there and I missed the ball. I went too quick," Olivo said.
Erick Aybar followed with another single, sending Mathis to third base. Chone Figgins dropped a squeeze bunt toward first base that Butler fielded as Mathis charged home with the go-ahead run.
That settled it.
After Hunter's spectacular catch in the ninth, the Royals made a feint at Fuentes as pinch-hitter Willie Bloomquist walked and Crisp singled. But David DeJesus rapped into a game-ending double play.
"You hope that ball gets out of the ballpark and you hope you don't end the game bouncing into a double play and you hope we can turn a double play," Hillman said, "And we didn't."
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.