Ervin Santana's mastery of the strike zone against his former teammates was incomplete.
Sure, he struck out eight, but he also gave up four home runs and the Kansas City Royals lost to the Los Angeles Angels 5-4 Thursday night.
"He throws a lot of strikes, and he's around the plate," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "He had his fastball up to 95 a couple of times tonight, and these guys have got a lot of power."
Albert Pujols and Mike Trout hit solo shots, and Mark Trumbo a two-run homer. Chris Iannetta also added a solo shot off the right-hander.
"I thought Trout's home run was extremely impressive," Yost said. "To take a pitch that far down and drive it over the center field fence as he did, and we know what Albert Pujols can do with a pitch. The two pitches we'd like to have back were the slider down the middle to Iannetta and of course, Trumbo on a 3-0 count."
It was the second time in Santana's career he has surrendered four home runs in a game. Santana, who pitched 12 years in the Angels organization before being traded to the Royals in the offseason, gave up a major league-high 39 home runs last season.
"Just a couple of missed pitches, and that's it. That was the right pitch to Trumbo. It was a slider, but it was all over the plate," Santana said. "I just was mad with myself."
The Royals scored on ground outs by Alex Gordon and Mike Moustakas.
Ernesto Frieri gave up two runs in the ninth on three hits and a walk. Perez, who had three hits, and George Kottaras hit RBI singles before Robert Coello was summoned to get the final out. He retired Alcides Escobar on a fly, to strand two runners for first big league save.
"I thought we showed a lot of life at the end of the game," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "We've got a four-game set, and their closer (Frieri) came in and had to throw close to 40 pitches in the first game of the set, and I thought we had a good approach. Any time you can put the tying run at second base and the winning run at first base in the ninth inning, you've done something, especially when you've been down three (runs)."
The Royals have lost 13 of their past 18 games to fall two games below .500, matching their worst record. They have scored three or fewer runs in 10 of the losses.
NOTES: The Royals optioned RHP Kelvin Herrera, who had given up eight home runs in 20 1-3 innings, to Triple-A Omaha. The Royals recalled RHP Louis Coleman, who had a 1.04 ERA in 14 relief appearances with Omaha. Coleman worked a scoreless ninth against the Angels. . Perez, who missed the previous two games with a bruised right hip, returned to the lineup... LF Alex Gordon went 0-for-3 to snap his 10-game hitting streak.