Hochevar, bats do part to end slide

Hochevar, bats do part to end slide

TORONTO -- In the visitors' clubhouse at Rogers Centre on Saturday, Luke Hochevar did not remember his own anniversary.

Exactly three years earlier, the right-hander was selected by the Royals as the first overall pick in the 2006 First-Year Player Draft. When asked about it by reporters, Hochevar had to be reminded about the significance of the date.

That much can be understood, as Hochevar clearly had other things on his mind, like stifling the Blue Jays hitters and leading the Royals to a 6-2 victory. The win for Kansas City (24-31) snapped an eight-game losing streak.

While the road to Saturday's start was not easy for the hurler, Hochevar sure looked like a No. 1 pick in the afternoon contest, allowing just two runs on four hits over 6 2/3 innings.

"Yeah, he did," said Royals manager Trey Hillman. ""Everything was very good. He mixed his pitches well. It should be a big confidence builder for him. The win couldn't have come at a bigger time for us."

Hochevar was recalled from Triple-A Omaha on Saturday to make the start. The right-hander has spent most of the season in the Triple-A, where he was 5-1 with a 1.50 ERA in eight starts.

That success had not been apparent during Hochevar's three-game stint with the Royals earlier this season, when he ran up a 10.80 ERA in 11 2/3 innings with the big league club.

While Saturday's results were different, though, Hochevar said his mentality was the same.

"Coming up, especially with this start, it was just 'go out and be myself,'" said Hochevar. "Execute pitches, pitch to my strengths and just let things happen."

Hochevar (1-2) was extremely effective on Saturday, at one point retiring 10 straight hitters. He earned his first Major League victory since July 11, 2008, against Seattle.

The right-hander was perfect through the first two innings before running into trouble in the third. That inning, Raul Chavez smacked an 0-2 pitch over the left-field wall for a two-run homer that opened the scoring and gave the Blue Jays (31-27) the lead.

"It was a good pitch," Hochevar said of Chavez's blast. "Tip your hat. That's exactly where I wanted to put it. I put it there, he hit it out."

But, the home run represented the only damage Hochevar would allow.

"Hoch was outstanding," gushed Hillman. "He really did a good job."

The Kansas City offense also played its part in ending the club's skid. The group entered the day hitting a collective .192 and averaging 2.4 runs over the past eight games. But those numbers were boosted on Saturday.

The Royals erupted for five runs against Toronto starter Scott Richmond in the fifth inning. With Kansas City trailing, 2-0, entering the frame, Jose Guillen singled and then scored on Mark Teahen's game-tying two-run home run over the left-center-field wall. The shot was Teahen's seventh of the season.

Kansas City did not stop here, though, as Willie Bloomquist later smacked a bases-loaded triple into the left-center-field gap that plated three more runs off Richmond (4-3) and pushed the Royals lead to 5-2.

For Bloomquist, who was hitting just .167 (5-for-30) in his past 13 games, the hit was extra sweet.

"It felt good," said the utility man. "It was nice on a personal note to come through with the bases loaded and get something going. On more of a team note, it was good to get a 'W' under our belts."

That "W" is something Hochevar hopes will lead to more victories, now that the losing streak is off his teammates' shoulders.

"No doubt about it," said Hochevar. "Every step, especially with success, is a step forward, so you just build off that, continue to learn and continue to get better."

As for his anniversary, Hochevar said that his victory on Saturday could not compare to the Draft day, three years ago.

"Winning is awesome," he said with a smile, when asked which day he would choose. "But also getting the opportunity to play pro ball with the Kansas City Royals uniform on is pretty awesome -- so definitely three years ago."

David Singh is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.