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Sun, Jun 26, 2011 - 2:10 PM ET
 

Cubs-Royals Preview

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In a statement that could sum up Luke Hochevar's entire tenure in Kansas City, the Royals aren't sure what to expect when the one-time No. 1 overall pick takes the hill.

Provided there's daylight, the results have been pretty good recently.

Eight of Hochevar's 10 victories since 2010 have been in matinees, a record he'll try to improve Sunday afternoon as the Royals look to become the third straight team to win a series from the visiting Chicago Cubs after dropping the opener.

Since his first full major league season in 2008, Hochevar (4-8, 4.97 ERA) has a 5.55 ERA, the second-highest among pitchers who have thrown at least 400 innings after Brian Bannister's 5.58.

The right-hander has also had nine starts - three this season - where he's lasted at least seven innings and given up no more than one run.

He looked to be headed for another after tossing four scoreless innings Tuesday against Arizona. But Hochevar surrendered a run in the fifth, another in the sixth and three more in the seventh before exiting a 7-2 loss.

"I wouldn't use the word disturbing. I'd use maybe puzzling,'' manager Ned Yost said of Hochevar's inconsistency. "Sometimes he can go into the third, fourth, fifth inning with no runs, he's painting, and then it's a series of mistakes. ... His stuff the first four innings was as good as you'd want it.''

Perhaps not having to perform under the lights will help Hochevar. He's 8-3 with a 4.29 ERA in 13 day starts since the beginning of last season, while he's 2-11 with a 5.26 ERA in 21 games - 20 starts - at night.

The Cubs (31-45) have never seen Hochevar, but if they struggle the first time through the order, they shouldn't be discouraged. Opponents are hitting .164 the first time up against Hochevar - making him one of the majors' 10 best starters - but that average rises to a staggering .339 the third time through the order.

It took Chicago until the third time through Saturday to produce anything offensively against rookie Danny Duffy, and back-to-back sixth-inning homers from Aramis Ramirez and Geovany Soto still weren't enough to produce a win.

Those shots tied the score at 2, but Chris Getz - who made an error that led to Friday's loss - drove in the go-ahead run in the eighth inning to help the Royals (32-45) snap their six-game skid with a 3-2 win.

"That's the great thing about baseball; you come back the next day," said Getz, who's 12 for 30 in his last eight games. "I don't have to wait a week. Show up the next day and you can do something to help the team."

Kansas City's outfielders are certainly trying to do their part defensively to help. Alex Gordon threw out Reed Johnson at home in the third inning Saturday, the Royals' fourth outfield assist in as many days and major league-leading 29th this season.

The Cubs, meanwhile, turn to Randy Wells (1-1, 5.70) as they look to avoid dropping their seventh series out of eight since late May.

The right-hander, who has never faced Kansas City, hasn't received a decision in four starts this month. He gave up five hits, four walks and four runs over six innings in last Sunday's 10-4 loss to the Yankees.

Royals shortstop Alcides Escobar, who has nine multihit games in his last 14, is 6 for 12 lifetime against Wells.

Tagged: Royals, Cubs, Luke Hochevar

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