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Hochevar's solid night wasted in Royals' loss to A's

Hochevar's solid night wasted in Royals' loss to A's

June 16th, 2011 in News

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) - Kansas City's Luke Hochevar was unhittable for five innings.

A single by Oakland's backup catcher and a controversial call on rookie Jemile Weeks' bunt changed all that and kept the Royals' right-hander winless in seven career starts against the Athletics.

Hochevar allowed five hits and both Oakland runs but got little help from Kansas City's offense, which failed to score with the tying runner on base twice in the final three innings and lost to the A's 2-1 on Wednesday night.

"It just comes down to pitch quality, making quality pitches when I need to make them," said Hochevar, who did not record a strikeout for the first time since July 26, 2008. "I still need to get better at that. It burned me tonight."

Hochevar (4-7) sailed through the first five innings, allowing only two walks to designated hitter Hideki Matsui. Oakland's only hit off him early came on Hochevar's third pitch of the game when David DeJesus lined a shot off the pitcher's right forearm.

The ball deflected to second baseman Chris Getz for an easy groundout. Hochevar was inspected by a team trainer and threw a few light tosses before staying in the game.

"It got me pretty good, right on the back of the forearm," Hochevar said. "But it didn't bother me throwing-wise. It really wasn't sore. It was just sore from the impact."

The hard-throwing right-hander showed no effects from the bruising shot. Matsui's two walks were the only time an Oakland player reached base until Landon Powell's line-drive single to center leading off the sixth.

Then it all came unraveled.

Weeks followed with a bunt up the first-base line, Hochevar fielded the ball and tossed it to first baseman Eric Hosmer hustling back to the bag. Television replays appeared to show Hosmer tagging Weeks just before he reached the base, but he was called safe by first base umpire Jeff Nelson.

After DeJesus bunted into a fielder's choice, Weeks stole third base without a throw. Then Pennington drove him in with a single to give Oakland a 1-0 lead.

"Hoch pitched a great ballgame, he really did," Kansas City manager Ned Yost said. "We just couldn't get anything going against (starter Josh) Outman. There wasn't a whole bunch of chances in the game for us."

Outman allowed four hits over seven innings and the A's gave new manager Bob Melvin his first home victory.

Cliff Pennington and Daric Barton had RBI singles for the scuffling A's, who had lost three straight and 13 of 14 in a streak that began under Bob Geren. Melvin improved to 2-4 since taking over for the fired Geren.

Outman (2-1) struck out two and walked two in the deepest outing of his major league career without allowing a run. Andrew Bailey pitched a perfect ninth for his second save in three chances.

The only noise the Royals made all game came far too late.

Alcides Escobar had three hits, including a double off reliever Brian Fuentes in the eighth, to tie his career high with an eight-game hitting streak. He scored a batter later when Alex Gordon singled to trim Oakland's lead to 2-1.

Melvin came out for a brief conference with Fuentes, who then allowed Melky Cabrera's single to put runners on first and third with two outs. Fuentes rallied by getting Hosmer to foul out along the spacious third-base line.

Neither team had many chances in this one.

Matt Treanor sent a shot off Outman deep to left field in the fourth that seemed headed for the seats. Josh Willingham backpedalled to the wall and leaped up to catch the ball near the top of the wall, robbing Treanor of extra bases and possibly a home run.

Ryan Sweeney provided another big defensive play for the A's, running down Jeff Francoeur's soaring shot to deep center in the seventh with a runner on first. Sweeney followed with a leadoff single in the bottom of the inning, and Barton drove him in two batters later to put Oakland ahead 2-0.

NOTES: Escobar is 12 for 19 on the road trip and is batting .552 during his hitting streak. ... Royals LHP Bruce Chen (left lat strain) will make a rehab start for Triple-A Omaha on Saturday, and RHP Kyle Davies (right shoulder inflammation) will make a rehab start Saturday for Double-A Northwest Arkansas.