KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Among Mike Scioscia's more diplomatic stock phrases is his contention that every major league team, no matter how shabby, possesses a lineup that can beat you and a pitcher who can shut you down.
The last-place Kansas City Royals displayed both of those qualities Friday night at Kauffman Stadium and still went meekly during a 3-0 loss to the Angels, supporting the theory that the Angels could bolster their playoff position by capitalizing on a 13-game stretch against losing teams that began Friday.
The Royals, who are 29 games below .500, put runners in scoring position in each of the first four innings before self-destructing in almost every conceivable fashion.
David DeJesus was picked off second base in the first, Dee Brown ran himself into an out at home plate in the second and Matt Stairs grounded into an inning-ending double play with two on in the third.
Ruben Mateo hit a leadoff double and went to third on a fly out in the fourth before Angel starter Kelvim Escobar struck out the next two batters to begin a stretch in which he retired 11 of 12.
"The first couple of innings they pressured [Escobar], and in key situations he made pitch after pitch," said Scioscia, whose Angels won their second consecutive game to move within 2 1/2 games of first place in the American League West, now held by the Oakland Athletics.
Robb Quinlan provided all the runs the typically offense-deprived Escobar needed, hitting a two-run homer in the fourth to extend his career-high hitting streak to 17 games. Two batters later, Tim Salmon dropped a run-scoring double on the outside edge of the left-field foul line to make it 3-0.
Escobar (6-8) was just starting to find his groove by then, recording seven of his final 11 outs by strikeout. The right-hander pitched seven shutout innings even though he gave up seven hits and hit a batter, finishing with nine strikeouts and one walk.
"I've always been the type of guy to get stronger toward the end of the game," said Escobar, who utilized all of his pitches -- slider, fastball, split-fingered fastball and breaking ball -- to record strikeouts.
Kansas City starter Darrell May (8-12) also pitched well, retiring the Angels in order in three of his seven innings. The left-hander struggled only in the fourth, giving up four consecutive hits as the Angels took control.
Francisco Rodriguez and Troy Percival each contributed a perfect inning of relief for the Angels, with Rodriguez striking out the side in the eighth and Percival pitching the ninth to record his 19th save.
The Royals had put themselves in position to take the lead in the first when DeJesus drew a leadoff walk and moved to second on Desi Relaford's single. But Escobar, after noticing that DeJesus had taken a big lead, whirled and threw to second baseman Adam Kennedy, who tagged DeJesus out.
Brown doubled to lead off the second and went to third on Angel Berroa's fly ball to right before making an ill-advised attempt to score on John Buck's ground ball to drawn-in first baseman Darin Erstad. Erstad threw to catcher Josh Paul, who tagged out Brown.
In the third, the Royals had runners on first and third with one out when Stairs grounded into a 4-6-3 double play.