Hochevar pounded in Yankees’ 10-4 win over Royals

KANSAS CITY (AP) — Luke Hochevar figures he’d better go back to square one.

If it were up to the fans in Kansas City, he’d be going back to the minors.

The former No. 1 overall draft pick was battered for seven runs in fewer than three innings Sunday by the New York Yankees. Robinson Cano had a grand slam and Nick Swisher homered two batters later to chase him from the game in the Royals’ 10-4 loss.

“When you give up a grand slam, that’s not what you want, but then again I need to get back to square one and figure it out,” Hochevar said, “and get things going and start helping this club and not be putting us in a hole early in the game.”

Hochevar’s ERA soared to 9.00 on the season. He was yanked after 21⁄3 innings, and has allowed 16 runs and 19 hits with four walks and a hit batter his past two starts.

Expected to be the staff ace, Hochevar has been perhaps the Royals’ worst pitcher — starter or reliever — so far this season. But he’s out of options, which means he’ll likely be given much more time to straighten things out before the team makes a drastic decision.

“Obviously, this is not where I want to be,” he said. “No, it’s definitely where I want to be. I need to get back to helping the ball club and doing the things I need to do to pitch deep into games and get outs. That’s the bottom line.”

Alex Rodriguez added a three-run shot in the eighth inning for the Yankees, helping them to a four-game split. The series began with a freak, season-ending injury to All-Star closer Mariano Rivera, but ended with the Yankees’ best offensive output in a dozen games.

“Great to see that from the middle of the order,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “We know what these guys are capable of doing and eventually it’s going to come.”

The Yankees already led on RBI singles by Raul Ibanez and Curtis Granderson when Cano came to the plate with the bases loaded in the third inning. He connected on a 2-1 pitch from Hochevar (2-3), sending the ball over the wall in right field for his second homer of the season.

Swisher added a solo shot two batters later, and A-Rod’s homer came in the eighth.

“It took a huge day by Robbie to get us back on track,” Swisher said. “It’s just what we needed. These guys have been doing it their entire careers. We’re not stressed about it.”

Phil Hughes (2-4) took advantage of the run support to go a season-high 62⁄3 innings. It was only the second time the right-hander had allowed fewer than four runs this season.

The Royals had nine hits, but couldn’t put them together for a big inning.

“I kind of got into a groove after the second inning,” Hughes said. “The few times there were guys in scoring position, I was able to execute my pitches and get out of jams.”

Billy Butler provided an RBI double in the first, Alex Gordon added a run-scoring single in the fifth, and Humberto Quintero snapped a 0-for-18 skid with a solo homer in the seventh. Jarrod Dyson tacked on an RBI single in the ninth.

Hochevar got in trouble right from the opening pitch, giving up a leadoff single to Jeter, who reached base four times on the afternoon. But the Yankees didn’t really capitalize until the third inning, when their bats finally awoke with a vengeance.

No. 9 hitter Dewayne Wise started a string of three straight base hits, and Granderson’s RBI single was the 1,000th hit of his career. Rodriguez was hit by a pitch to the load the bases for Cano, who delivered his first grand slam since last September against Baltimore.

Swisher, who had the Yankees’ other slam this season, chased Hochevar when he sent a 1-2 pitch into the seats in right two batters later. Swisher had been out since hurting his hamstring last Sunday against Detroit, but looked just fine trotting around the bases at Kauffman Stadium.

“I don’t think we need to do anything that drastic,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “You go through your checklist. Are his mechanics OK? Is he duplicating his mechanics? Today he struggled to duplicate his mechanics. It’s not a new pitch. It’s not a new grip.”

Irving Falu provided the Royals with perhaps the only bright spot on the day.

Falu had spent more than nine years and 949 games in the minor leagues before getting his first major league start at shortstop. He tripled in his first at-bat, and then added a single in the fifth inning, coming around to score on Gordon’s base hit.

“It was great to see him and get a triple in his first major league at-bat,” Yost said. “And then get another base hit, play great defense at shortstop. That was a real positive note.”

Notes: New York is off today before starting a six-game homestand against Tampa Bay. ... LHP Jonathan Sanchez starts for Kansas City tonight as the Royals begin a series against Boston.

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