The Angels committed three of their four errors in the sixth inning when the Royals broke open a 4-all tie.
"We have guys on the team that are fast, like me, David and Mark," center fielder Joey Gathright said of himself, David DeJesus and Mark Grudzielanek. "I try to make teams nervous when I go up to hit."
It worked in the decisive sixth.
With the score 4-4, Gathright led off the inning with a bunt single and continued to third on a throwing error by Kevin Gregg (2-3). Gathright scored when first baseman Kendry Morales misplayed DeJesus' groundball. The third error came when Mike Napoli was charged with catcher's interference on a pitchout when Doug Mientkiewicz reached for the pitch.
"We've seen it from our offensive end how if we're aggressive we can cause mistakes," Los Angeles manager Mike Scioscia said. "Kansas City turned it right back on us. Gathright can run and force mistakes. These are things that are going to happen to a young team. It hasn't happened in a while, but it happens.
"Crumple this one up and throw it away. We've been playing great baseball, and tonight is really something you wouldn't have expected. But it happens. So you move forward. We've been playing very fundamentally sound baseball, aggressive baseball, for a long time now, and this game we're just going to turn the page on."
Kansas City manager Buddy Bell, whose team just returned from a 1-6 road trip, was happy to see the win, even if it was sloppy.
"They helped us quite a bit, but our bullpen was outstanding," he said. "Elmer (Dessens) was awesome when he came in in the fifth and Ambiorix Burgos was outstanding as well.
"We needed that. We did some good things offensively as well. Joey gives us a dimension that we haven't had all year. His routes in the outfield are getting better and he's starting to get the hang of it offensively. Having speed like that in your lineup, especially when we're not swinging the bats well, it's nice to have that in your lineup."
Dessens (5-7) picked up the win with three scoreless innings. He came into a 4-4 game with no outs and a runner on second in the fifth. He gave up a single, but then retired the next nine batters he faced.
"Elmer Dessens did a great job for them to get out of that inning," Scioscia said. "If we grab the lead, we're in a better position to do some things in the mound."
Kansas City added three runs in the seventh. Mark Teahen led off with a double to right and scored on an RBI single by Angel Berroa. Berroa moved to third on a sacrifice by John Buck that produced the fourth error when pitcher Hector Carrasco threw past Kendry Morales at first base. Gathright drove in Berroa with a sacrifice fly, and DeJesus followed with an RBI single.
The Angels committed four errors in the game to bring their American League-leading total to 77.
Gregg pitched 1 1/3 innings, giving up one unearned run and one hit.
Angels starter Ervin Santana walked a career-high eight in 4 1/3 innings. He threw 103 pitches, only 46 for strikes, and gave up four runs and five hits.
"It was a tough start for him, and he's going to have to turn the page too," Scioscia said. "We certainly opened the door for those guys on the defensive end and on the mound. We walked a lot of guys and those guys kept pressuring us every inning. We were probably fortunate early to still be in the ballgame."
Kansas City starter Jimmy Gobble allowed four runs and six hits in four-plus innings. He walked two and struck out three.
The Royals got two runs in the first when Santana walked three and threw two wild pitches. Emil Brown drove in one run with a sacrifice fly and Mientkiewicz scored on a passed ball by Napoli.
Kansas City made it 3-0 on an RBI double by Grudzielanek.
An RBI single by Vladimir Guerrero in the third and an run-scoring double by Howie Kendrick in the fourth brought Los Angeles within 3-2. Guerrero tied the game in the fifth with a two-run double.
Garret Anderson of the Angels hit in the seventh spot in the lineup for the first time since May 3, 1999, against the Chicago White Sox. ... The Royals' two runs in the first inning broke a 21-inning scoreless streak. ... Royals starters had not issued an unintentional walk in three games before Gobble walked Macier Izturis, the second batter he faced. ... The game-time temperature was 96 degrees, the hottest game of the season so far in Kansas City.