Royals 9, Dodgers 4

BY foxsports • March 21, 2009

Claudio Vargas sought advice from Los Angeles Dodgers pitching coach Rick Honeycutt and it paid immediate dividends. Vargas, vying for the final slot in the Dodgers' rotation, pitched three effective innings, but the Kansas City Royals took advantage of two Los Angeles errors to score seven unearned runs in a 9-4 victory on Friday night. Vargas had yielded seven runs and 11 hits in 5 1-3 innings in his previous two outings and went to Honeycutt for help. "I don't feel happy with the previous two outings," Vargas said. "I know I can do a better job. I told Honeycutt I thought I did something wrong because before that I was pitching better. We started talking. He told me what he saw from the dugout. We started working last week after my last outing. I'm trying to stay back and try to finish my pitches. Tonight I feel much better. I finish the pitches." "I was just jumping a little bit, especially from the stretch, that made me throw pitches up in the strike zone and that's why I got hit." The Royals sent 10 men to the plate in a six-run fifth off Eric Milton, who committed a throwing error in the inning. Mike Jacobs, who is hitting .318 with 14 RBIs in 16 games, and Alex Gordon both had two-run doubles in the inning. Rookie outfielder Chris Lubanski added a two-run homer in the sixth off Milton (0-2), who allowed eight runs, one earned, and six hits and a walk in three innings. Royals right-hander Luke Hochevar, the top pick in the 2006 draft, gave up three runs and four hits in the first when the Dodgers sent eight men to the plate. Hochevar permitted just one hit and no runs the next three innings. "In the first inning, I felt I really had no rhythm," Hochevar said. "I made some mistakes over the middle of the plate and my ball was up. I was just out of synch in the first inning. I felt I had good approach and my focus was there. From the second on, I settled in, everything was catching up and everything was in synch. "I think I threw 30 pitches in the first. You can't do that and go deep into ball games. It's just getting into a better rhythm quicker. Other than that, I bounced back and competed through it. That's what you've got to do." Brandon Duckworth (1-0) worked a perfect fifth to pick up the victory. The Royals collected 10 hits and are hitting .328 with nine home runs in their past five games. Notes: Former world heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali attended the game, was presented a Royals' jersey with his name on the back before the game on the field and had his picture taken with the team. ... The Royals optioned 1B Kila Ka-aihue, who hit 38 HRs last year, including one in the majors, and RHP Devon Lowery to Class AAA Omaha. Lowery was 1-0 with a save and a 0.00 ERA in five relief appearances, allowing one hits in 4 2-3 innings. ... The Dodgers have lost five of their past six.

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