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Hochevar string snapped in loss to O's

kHochevar string snapped in loss to O's

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BALTIMORE -- Luke Hochevar's run of good fortune came to an abrupt halt on Thursday afternoon.

Hochevar, who had won four straight decisions, gave up 11 hits as the Royals lost to the Orioles, 7-3, in front of 19,194 fans at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. As a result, Kansas City split the four-game series after winning the first two.

"We definitely should have won one of these last two," Royals manager Trey Hillman said.

That seemed a good likelihood with Zack Greinke and Hochevar pitching the last two games. But it didn't happen.

Ty Wigginton put the Orioles on the board in the second inning Thursday with a solo home run into the left-field seats.

But the Orioles really broke through against Hochevar with four runs in the fifth inning. Matt Wieters led off with a double and Hochevar got two outs before running into more trouble.

"I wasn't getting my breaking ball over," Hochevar said. "I really didn't even have my breaking ball today and my slider was flat. When that happens, they just eliminate pitches. ... And even though I was throwing some pretty good fastballs, they were sitting on them because they can eliminate the breaking ball."

Felix Pie singled and Hochevar, who had not walked anyone for a span of 82 batters, issued a pass on a 3-2 pitch to Adam Jones, loading the bases.

That didn't distress Hochevar at all, because Jones had walloped a home run in each of the first three games of the series. Hochevar really didn't care that Jones walked.

"No, I didn't," Hochevar said. "He's the hottest hitter in their lineup, and with guys at first and third, I'd rather take my chances with [Nick] Markakis. I got him out the first two times. And I threw him a 0-2 fastball at his neck. He hit a ground ball to shortstop and it was a tough play, but I'd rather take my chances with that."

Markakis got an RBI single on a sharp grounder that shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt smothered in the hole but couldn't make a throw on. Then, on a 2-1 pitch, Aubrey Huff cleared the bases with a double to right-center field.

"[Hochevar] was trying to throw a strike and I think he missed location there, trying to stay away, and he went into the joy zone for the double by Huff," Hillman said.

That's the way Hochevar's day went, although based on his previous performances, Hillman stayed with him through six innings.

Hochevar gave up two more runs in the sixth, his final inning. There were two outs when Cesar Izturis and Brian Roberts hit back-to-back doubles and Pie singled for a 7-0 lead.

"Actually, I liked his stuff today," Hillman said. "Especially from the fourth inning on, he started to get better command of the breaking ball. Earlier than that, he didn't have the touch for the curveball which was so prevalent in his last outing when he struck out so many [13]."

Right-hander Brad Bergesen stymied the Royals until the seventh inning when he was, quite literally, knocked out of the box. The Royals picked up a run as Alex Gordon walked and Betancourt, breaking a 0-for-19 skid, and David DeJesus each singled. Mitch Maier also singled to load the bases.

Billy Butler hit a shot that caught Bergesen in the left shin. The force of the blow sent the ball bouncing back to catcher Wieters, who threw out Butler to squelch the threat. But Bergesen hobbled off the field limping and threw his glove into the Orioles' dugout before being taken inside for treatment.

X-rays were negative but the leg was swollen.

"He was throwing sinker, slider, that's pretty much all there was to it," Butler said. "I saw the ball good, I got a hit off him and should have had another one but it hit off his leg. He threw good and made pitches when he needed to. If I get the ball up the middle, that might have been a different game."

Bergesen was relieved for the eighth by lefty Mark Hendrickson, who gave up a double to Alberto Callaspo and a home run to John Buck, a drive to left field. It was Buck's fourth homer.

Considered a possible Rookie of the Year candidate, Bergesen improved his record to 7-5 and dropped his ERA to 3.43.

"He's gotten himself on the map in the American League," Orioles manager Dave Trembley said. "He's gotten himself recognized in our division. He's been our best pitcher, everybody knows that."

Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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