As the Angels enter the final week before the July 31 nonwaiver trade deadline, a hazard of such exchanges came to life Tuesday.
Left-hander Will Smith, dealt to Kansas City two years ago this week with another young pitcher for Angels third baseman Alberto Callaspo, muted his former team on two hits through seven innings as the Royals claimed a 4-1 victory at Angel Stadium.
Smith, 23, didn't allow an Angel past first base from the second inning through the seventh. He struck out four and was dinged only in the first inning by Mark Trumbo's run-scoring single.
Perhaps fittingly, the final batter Smith faced in his 102-pitch effort was Callaspo, who popped out to first base to close the seventh.
With teammates applauding, Smith (2-3) calmly stepped over the first-base foul line to accept congratulations while Callaspo lifted his shirt over his mouth to apparently utter some choice words of disappointment.
Trumbo and Kendrys Morales got singles off Royals closer Jonathan Broxton in the ninth, but Callaspo grounded out to first to end the game as the Angels (53-45) remained five games behind the Texas Rangers in the American League West.
"Alberto's been really important to us, playing a Gold Glove-caliber third base," Angels Manager Mike Scioscia said. "You have to give to get. That's the way trades work."
Angels starter Garrett Richards (3-2) took the loss after the team last week awarded him a vote of confidence by allowing him to stay in the starting rotation in favor of veteran Jerome Williams.
Richards gave up two runs in each of the first two innings, and now has a 7.88 earned-run average in the first two innings of his starts compared to a 1.95 ERA afterward.
"I've got to be better . . . instead of waiting for something to happen and then turn it on," Richards said.
Following a leadoff double by Alex Gordon in the first, Lorenzo Cain hit his third home run of the season, over the short fence in left field.
The Angels worked to answer after Trumbo's run batted in, but Howie Kendrick grounded into his team-leading 15th double play.
Gordon, who was three for four with a run and RBI, knocked in a run with a single in the second and Alcides Escobar hit a run-scoring groundout for a 4-1 lead.
Richards barely made it out of the second. Only five outs into the game, the right-hander had surrendered two walks, three singles, a wild pitch, a double and a homer.
And he had Royals cleanup hitter Billy Butler standing at the plate with two men on.
Butler struck out swinging for the second time, however, and 11 of the next 12 Royals were retired. Richards departed after five innings, having thrown 96 pitches.
Williams relieved with four shutout innings in what Scioscia described as "a great outing. . . . He had the ball down with a heavy slider."
Scioscia said he would "evaluate" the No. 5 spot in the rotation further. With starter Ervin Santana also struggling, Scioscia said he'll observe who is most qualified to "step up."
Mixing a cut fastball and curve, Smith counted Albert Pujols as a strikeout victim. Pujols was struck on the right forearm by a ball that glanced off his swinging bat in the third inning. Scioscia said Pujols was "a little sore" after the game.
Smith, in his fifth major league start, also retired torrid Angels leadoff man Mike Trout three times, stopping the rookie's 12-game hitting streak and 15-game streak of scoring at least one run, an Angels and American League rookie record.