Box scoreKANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Luke Hochevar’s arm and Yuniesky Betancourt’s legs were a winning combination for the Kansas City Royals.
Hochevar recovered from a shaky start to earn his first win since May 26 and Betancourt stole home, leading Kansas City to a 6-4 victory over the Cleveland Indians on Sunday.
The top pick in the 2006 amateur draft, Hochevar (6-5) gave up three runs in the first two innings but none after that. He allowed eight hits over six innings, striking out five and walking one.
“The first two innings he was just throwing out there,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “Then he adjusted and started pitching.”
Hochevar, who missed nearly three months this season with a right elbow sprain, agreed.
“He’s right,” the pitcher said. “I was mainly attacking them with fastballs, trying to be aggressive. But after the first at-bats, I settled in and started going after them a bit different. Instead of just pounding fastballs, I started mixing it up better.”
Mitch Maier had a two-run single in Kansas City’s four-run second. Betancourt walked with the bases loaded to force in Kila Ka’aihue with the first run of the inning. With Betancourt on third, Maier broke from first and Indians pitcher Josh Tomlin ran toward him. Betancourt took off for home and by the time Tomlin turned around and fired to the plate, Betancourt slid in ahead of the tag to give the Royals a 4-3 advantage.
It was Betancourt’s first stolen base of the season and the Royals’ first steal of home since Alex Gordon did it on Aug. 2, 2009, at Tampa Bay. Kansas City has accomplished the feat 33 times in franchise history, five since 1999.
“It wasn’t planned that way, but it worked out,” Maier said. “I was trying to steal after he did the third-to-first move. Yuney did a great job. Soon as he saw the pitcher turn his back and run toward to me, he took off.”
Betancourt said it was his first career steal of home.
“I was bluffing, but when I saw him stop and turn, I just took off,” Betancourt said through a translator. “It was just great timing.”
Indians manager Manny Acta said that double steal is a play the Indians work on preventing “about 5 million times in spring training, and then 250,000 times during the season.”
“I felt Josh just buried himself in that four-run inning by pitching behind, and those walks really hurt him,” Acta said. “At the end, that butchered first-and-third double steal doesn’t happen very often, because he needed the awareness of the overall baseball game.”
Tomlin accepted the blame.
“I took my eye off the runner at third,” Tomlin said. “I saw the guy going to second and I tried to run him back. The other guy took off the second I had my back turned. That was my mistake. I looked the runner back — I’ve got to check the runner at third first.”
Ka’aihue doubled home Billy Butler and Wilson Betemit in the sixth.
Joakim Soria worked the ninth for his 39th save in 41 chances. He has converted 32 straight opportunities.
Tomlin (4-4) went five-plus innings, allowing six runs on six hits and two walks to snap his three-game winning streak.
Shin-Soo Choo hit a two-run homer, his fourth of the series, to give the Indians a 2-0 lead in the first. Trevor Crowe led off the second with a double and scored on Luis Valbuena’s single.
The Indians did not score again until the eighth when Crowe scampered home on Blake Wood’s wild pitch.
Michael Brantley singled in the seventh to extend his hitting streak to 19 games, the longest active streak in the majors and the longest by an Indians rookie since Larry Doby hit in 21 in a row in 1948.
NOTES: Royals 2B Chris Getz missed his sixth straight game after sustaining a concussion Sept. 12 at Chicago. Choo got his 20th stolen base in the third inning, giving him 20 home runs and 20 steals this season. After 74 home dates, the Royals’ attendance is down 193,309 from last season.