(AP) — It’s been exactly three years since the Kansas City Royals last swept an interleague series.
They’ll likely need Luke Hochevar to end his struggles at home in order to accomplish that feat again.
The right-hander again looks for his first victory at Kauffman Stadium this season while trying to help the Royals sweep the Milwaukee Brewers on Thursday night.
One night after the Royals outlasted their former ace Zack Greinke in a 2-1 series-opening victory, Alcides Escobar hit a game-tying two-run triple with two outs in the ninth inning and Mike Moustakas drew a bases-loaded walk in the 11th to give Kansas City a 4-3 victory Wednesday.
“There’s just so much baseball to be played,” Moustakas said. “You play nine innings and every out matters. We always feel we have a chance.”
The consecutive victories followed a four-game skid for the Royals (26-34), who have yet to sweep a series at home this season. Kansas City, which had won twice in its previous 12 games against NL opponents heading into this set, last swept an interleague series June 12-14, 2009, at home versus Cincinnati.
Thanks to the big ninth-inning hit from the former Brewers shortstop Escobar, who is 6 for 14 in his last four games, the Royals have a chance to do it again.
“We’ve been really focusing on our approach, a relaxed approach, and it showed,” Royals manager Ned Yost said.
Hochevar (3-7, 6.57 ERA), however, is 0-4 with a 10.23 ERA in five starts at Kauffman Stadium in 2012. His last outing came at Pittsburgh on Friday, when he allowed four runs in six innings to fall to 0-4 with a 5.79 ERA in his last five starts overall.
The Royals hitters, meanwhile, could be in for a stiff test against scheduled Milwaukee starter Shaun Marcum (5-3, 3.50).
The right-hander has posted a 2.29 ERA while winning each of his last three starts. He allowed three runs and two homers in 5 2-3 innings of a 9-5 win over San Diego on Friday.
Marcum has been tough on the Royals while going 3-1 with a 1.85 ERA in five starts against them – all with Toronto.
Ryan Braun and Aramis Ramirez each had two hits with an RBI on Wednesday for the Brewers (28-34), who have lost nine of their last 11 interleague contests.
“You need to take it from the other team,” manager Ron Roenicke said. “That’s a bad ballgame to lose right there. I have confidence in these guys, but they need to start doing it.”
Braun is batting .406 (28 for 69) with 19 RBIs during his 18-game interleague hitting streak.
Though Milwaukee has totaled just four runs in this series, the bullpen might be a bigger concern for Roenicke. Closer John Axford walked two and blew the save in the ninth Wednesday, and two more walks led to the defeat in the 11th.
“Somebody needs to step up and start throwing the ball,” Roenicke said. “Nobody out there is throwing the ball the way the need to be throwing it.”