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Angels Send Santana To Hill Against Royals

(Sports Network) - On the heels of their thrilling win on Friday, the Kansas City Royals try to make it two in a row this afternoon when they continue their season-opening four-game set against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Kauffman Stadium.

After falling on Opening Day, the Royals got into the win column last night, as Kila Ka'aihue's leadoff homer in the bottom of the ninth lifted Kansas City to a 2-1 win.

"All the emotions of all the firsts ... they all have their special moments and this one's different," said Ka'aihue, who hit just .217 a season ago in 52 games.

Ka'aihue belted a low pitch over the wall in right field off Michael Kohn (0-1) for the Royals, who with a win today would go over .500 for the first time since May 21, 2009.

"It was a fastball called away and it probably caught too much of the middle of the plate and he put a good swing on it," said Kohn on the game-deciding pitch.

The hit, on the second pitch of the inning, made a winner of Joakim Soria (1-0), who turned in a scoreless top of the ninth. Starter Jeff Francis was terrific in his Royals debut, as he allowed one run, five hits and fanned four over seven full frames.

Howie Kendrick hit a first-inning homer in the loss for the Angels, whose bullpen has surrendered three home runs in 3 2/3 innings in two games this season.

Heading to the hill for the Royals today will be righty Kyle Davies, who struggled to find the strike zone last year, as he walked 80 batters and ended the year 8-12 with a 5.34 ERA.

Davies was 0-1 with a 5.40 ERA in two starts against the Angels last season and owns a 1-1 lifetime mark against them in four starts.

Los Angeles, meanwhile, will counter with righty Ervin Santana, who set a personal benchmark last season with 17 victories, a sharp reversal of fortune from an injury-plagued 2009. Santana also set career-highs last season with 222 2/3 innings, four complete games and 3.93 ERA.

"My goal is to get better every year," Santana said. "Before, 16 [wins] was my best, and I wanted to win 17. Now that I have 17, I want more: 18, 19, maybe even 20."

Putting together back-to-back strong years has been a challenge for the Dominican righty in the past, however, as he struggled in sequels to 16-win campaigns in both 2006 and '08.

The Angels won seven of their 10 meetings with the Royals last season and are 17-5 in the last 22 matchups between the teams.

For more news and information on today's game, be sure to read the SB Nation blog Halos Heaven.