Padres' split squad falls to Hochevar, Royals

March 15, 2013

SURPRISE, Ariz. (AP) -- Luke Hochevar is adapting to a new role.

Hochevar worked two perfect innings in relief, David Lough had two more hits and a Kansas City Royals split-squad rallied to beat a San Diego Padres split-squad 7-5 on Friday.

Hochevar, the first player selected in the 2006 draft, was sent to the bullpen Wednesday after struggling the past five seasons as a starter. He struck out two and threw 16 strikes in 23 pitches.

"You get that shot of adrenaline, which is nice," Hochevar said about coming out of the bullpen. "It's kind of a different approach. You're not trying to establish anything or keep your pitch count down to get deep into the game. It's more like an attack, swing-and-miss kind of approach. I don't know how to explain it.

"I'm throwing all my breaking pitches from the get-go, instead of trying to establish your fastball, working your changeup early and get early contact. You're just coming at them, trying to get outs. It's kind of what I took from it today. It's fun."

Hochevar said he doesn't try to throw harder as a reliever.

"You're still trying to execute a pitch, but you know you've only got to go one inning, so you can kind of step on the gas a little more," he said. "Maybe you go more to your strength more so than pitch to a game plan."

Lough went 2 for 3 with a double and scored a run to raise his spring average to .548.

Nick Hundley hit a two-run homer in the Padres' three-run first.

"It was a fastball out over the middle of the plate," Hundley said. "I know Will had good life on his fastball, so you've got to get ready for that and try not to miss it."

Hundley raised his average to .469 and has two homers with a Cactus League-leading six doubles in a dozen games for an .844 slugging percentage and a 1.329 OPS.

"I came in with a lot of confidence with the work I put in the offseason, but it's nice to see the results," Hundley said. "At the same time, if the results weren't there I'd still have confidence in my swing. Results no doubt are a nice thing as well."

San Diego took advantage of three errors in the first three innings to score five runs, four unearned. Padres starter Jason Marquis gave up three runs on five hits and three walks in three innings, throwing 74 pitches.

"It wasn't great. It wasn't terrible," Marquis said. "I worked myself out of some jams, which obviously you hope to do during the season. I felt timing of my delivery was a little bit off today. I really battled. I really had to make some pitches to get out of those jams. I was just a little out of synch.

"I got my pitch count up. It's not the type of pitch count you want. You're either working on things, building up arm strength. I've got a couple of more weeks to get everything right."

Minor leaguer Alex Llanos hit a two-run single in a four-run eighth inning for the Royals.

NOTES: Royals SS Alcides Escobar continues to be held out of the lineup because of lower back spasms. He has not played since Sunday. ... Royals RHP Wade Davis, who has not pitched since March 3 because of inflammation in the back of his throwing shoulder, threw three scoreless innings in a Royals' minor league game, allowing one hit, striking out six and walking none. Davis, who is penciled in as the No. 4 starter, said he felt fine afterward, but called the setback "very annoying." ... The Royals failed to score in the first inning for the third consecutive game. In the first 16 games, the Royals scored 27 runs in the first inning.