Feldman struggles again, Rangers lose 5-2

KANSAS CITY (AP) — Luke Hochevar is finally
beginning to pitch the way the Kansas City Royals hoped he would be
after selecting him first overall in the 2006 draft.

Hochevar went eight strong innings and Billy
Butler homered to lead the Royals to a 5-2 win over the Texas Rangers on

Hochevar (5-2), the only
Royals starter with a winning record, held the Rangers to two runs on
six hits, striking out four and walking none. In winning his past two
starts, Hochevar has allowed five runs on 10 hits in 17 innings.

“You can’t pitch any better than he’s pitched
the last two games,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “All the ingredients
are there for him to be an ultra-successful American League pitcher.
He’s throwing the ball as good as you can possibly throw it. Today it
was against a real good hitting club. They’ve got speed; they’ve got
dangerous power in the middle of that lineup. He was right on top of his
game. He was fantastic.”

Hochevar, who
entered this season with a 13-26 record and 5.88 ERA, said he is gaining

“Success always comes before
confidence,” Hochevar said. “I feel comfortable on the mound. I feel my
game plan has worked quite a few times this year. I trust in it. There’s
a lot of thump in that lineup. You’ve got to be more aggressive,
getting ahead in the counts, ’cause if you fall into fastball counts
with that team — a good fastball hitting team — that’s when they do
their damage.”

Butler went 2 for 4 to
raise his average to .348, second in the American League. He led off the
sixth with his fifth home run to snap a 2-2 tie.

“It’s quite impressive to watch a young man have
that good of an idea and that good of an eye and put together
consistent good at-bats time after time after time,” Yost said.

Joakim Soria worked a flawless ninth for his
11th save in 13 chances and the 100th of his career.

“It means a lot because it’s a good number to
reach, but I want more,” Soria said.

Willie Bloomquist drove in two runs for Kansas City with a sacrifice fly
in the sixth and a run-scoring double in the eighth.

Rangers right-hander Scott Feldman (2-5)
allowed four runs on seven hits with one walk and two hit batters in 6
2/3 innings. Feldman, a 17-game winner in 2009, is 1-5 with a 6.91 ERA,
and opponents are hitting .326 in his past eight starts.

“I’m frustrated,” Feldman said. “I’ve got to
get better.”

Nelson Cruz doubled with two
outs in the second inning and scored on Justin Smoak’s single to give
the Rangers a 1-0 lead.

The Royals tied
it in the bottom half when Scott Podsednik’s two-out single scored Mitch
Maier, who led off with a single. Kansas City went ahead in the third
when Mike Aviles led off with a double, moved to third on a groundout by
Butler and scored on Guillen’s sacrifice fly.

The Rangers tied it at 2 in the sixth when
Michael Young tripled to score Elvis Andrus. Young extended his hitting
streak to a season-high 12 games and has an MLB-best 37 hits in May.

“Hochevar didn’t give up much,” Rangers
manager Ron Washington said. “The sixth inning we had a chance to take
the lead on him, but we just didn’t get it done. Feldman hung in there
and gave us 6 2-3 innings. We just didn’t put enough runs to make a

Royals SS Yuniesky Betancourt was held out of the lineup
because of a mild concussion which he sustained in a collision at home
plate Tuesday with Rangers C Matt Treanor. … Young’s triple was the
44th of his career, tying him with Ruben Sierra for the most in Rangers’
history. … The Royals beat the Rangers for the first time in six
meetings this season. … The Royals are hitting an AL-best .303 in day

Updated May 26, 2010