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Royals let 3-run lead slip away, Iannetta homers off Collins in 8th, Angels win 4-3

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ANAHEIM, Calif. - Jason Vargas had quite a homecoming at Angel Stadium on Sunday, taking a two-hit shutout into the seventh inning.

He gave up one more hit and counted on the Kansas City bullpen to hold a three-run lead for him.

But the Los Angeles Angels tied it against reliever Kelvin Herrera, then Chris Iannetta homered in the eighth for a 4-3 win over the Royals.

Herrera gave up a single by No. 9 hitter Collin Cowgill on his first pitch and surrendered an RBI double by Mike Trout before hitting Albert Pujols with an 0-2 pitch. David Freese followed with a two-run single that pulled the Angels even.

"He couldn't put them away. He was getting fastballs up and just wasn't making good pitches when he was ahead in the count," manager Ned Yost said.

"There were two outs, and I keep thinking he's going to make a pitch because his stuff's good. But then he throws two consecutive changeups over the middle of the plate to Trout, then hits Pujols with an 0-2 curveball. He was one pitch away from getting out of it, but he never made it."

Pujols tried to score the go-ahead run from second on C.J. Cron's sharp single, but Lorenzo Cain — starting in right field for the first time this season after 28 starts in centre — threw him out at the plate.

Collins (0-3) retired the first batter in the eighth before Iannetta drove the left-hander's 2-1 pitch into the lower seats in the left-field corner for his fifth homer. The veteran catcher also went deep in Friday's series opener to provide the first run in C.J. Wilson's 6-1 win.

"I just missed. I was trying to go away," Collins said. "You can't miss your spots in those situations. That's what I did, and that's what happens."

Vargas was charged with a run and three hits over 6 1-3 innings and was lifted after 109 pitches. The left-hander struck out six and tied a career high with five walks. It was the sixth time in 165 big league starts that he has walked as many as five batters, and the first time since July 20, 2011, with Seattle.

"I think he was being extra careful with Pujols and Trout — and Howie Kendrick's also tough," Yost said. "That's a powerful lineup over there. So either he was going to make his pitch, or he wasn't going to make a mistake to those guys and let them drive it out of the ballpark."

Vargas walked his first batter in the second, third and fourth innings after giving up a leadoff single in the first, but the Angels couldn't capitalize. He walked his first two batters in the third before retiring Pujols on a double-play grounder to shortstop and striking out Freese.

"It was just one of those games where I had to battle through some innings," Vargas said. "I was just missing and wasn't able to get ahead on some of those guys, but I was fortunate to get back into some counts later in the inning and ended up getting out of it."

The Royals, who scored first in all three games of the series, got all of their runs in the second against Garrett Richards. Pedro Ciriaco hit a bloop double that scored Jimmy Paredes, who singled and advanced on the right-hander's first balk in 291 1-3 career innings to that point.

Jarrod Dyson reached on a fielding error by Gold Glove shortstop Erick Aybar, and Eric Hosmer followed with a sacrifice fly before Alex Gordon capped the rally with an RBI single.

Richards retired his next 11 batters, striking out the side on 11 pitches in the fifth.

"He was tough. He had a 97 mile an hour fastball and a good breaking ball," Yost said. "We jumped on him for three in the third, and with another big two-out hit, we would have been up 5-0 at that point. You still have to find ways to tack on another run or two over the course of the game, and not being able to hurt us."

Michael Kohn (2-1) pitched a scoreless inning. Ernesto Frieri got three outs for his sixth save, retiring Alcides Escobar on a popup with a runner on third.

NOTES: Vargas was 9-8 with a 4.02 ERA in 24 starts with the Angels last season after four years with Seattle. He signed a four-year, $32 million contract with Kansas City on Nov. 21. ... In May 2013 with the Angels, Vargas earned AL Pitcher of the Month honours after going 5-0 with a 2.30 ERA in six starts. ... The Royals recalled RHP Michael Mariot from Triple-A Omaha and optioned C Francisco Pena to the minor league team. Pena is the son of former Royals manager and current Yankees bench coach Tony Pena.

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